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Saturday, Oct 21, 2017
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Durant girls tennis struggles to field a full roster.

Sidelined by an extremely thin squad, the Durant girls' tennis team has had a difficult time putting together a full roster of five players on the court this year. Because of it, head coach Karen Montgomery has had to forfeit several matches, she said.
The competition usually has a full field, she added, and they want to play, but Durant isn't always able to do so, she said, summarizing the season. The third-year coach said she lost five seniors from last year's team, leaving her with only three experienced players. Of the other two slots she has to fill, her number four player has seen limited action and Durant's number five faced her first competitive action March 26 against Brandon.
"We're pretty thin this year," Montgomery said, understating the fact. "This is the slimmest team I've had in tennis," she added before taking another loss to Brandon, 7-0, falling to 2-6 on the season. And, she has a pretty good idea what's causing the problem: girls' flag football -- the new cool sport, as she called it. Only in its second year, flag football seems to be stealing many of the girls that may otherwise explore playing tennis. This is the first year Hillsborough County schools will be able to compete for a state championship in girls' flag football. It has been a sanctioned sport by the Florida High School Athletic Association since 2003. "In flag football, you can just walk on and play," she said, however, she admitted that's not really the case in the finesse game of tennis where players can train years before becoming good. "Flag football is taking its toll," she said, discouraged about the outcome of her team's season, but encouraged by the passion she's seen in those she has on the team. Time, she hopes, may turn the team around.

Scott E. Rupp can be reached at 657-4510 or by e-mail at srupp@mediageneral.com.

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