Coach: 'A solid foundation set' with Lady Buffs tennis

·3 min read

May 2—The Lady Buffs entered a new era this spring.

McAlester girls tennis faced the competition at the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association Class 5A tennis regional at Ada, and coach Chris Burns looked back on the season of trials and triumphs that led the Lady Buffs to that point.

Burns took over the helm of the program this season, and said there was a lot of growth and experience gained this spring.

"We started off with not much experience, so we went out to get as much as we could and play as much as possible," he said. "The girls have listened and worked real hard to do what they can, and have come a long way."

And he said no matter what adversity the Lady Buffs may face, they never quit battling — facing every challenge head on.

"I'm really proud of the way they've fought and worked all season long," Burns said. "We have a real tough schedule we've put together for them, and they've done really well this year."

Burns knows exactly what it means to take the court for McAlester, being a former Buffalo tennis student-athlete himself. So now being able to come in and lead the program into the next chapter has been a tough but rewarding challenge.

"Getting to come back and try to make a difference in a program that meant a whole lot to me growing up has been exciting and tough at the same time," he said.

Burns said all the strides and successes the Lady Buffs have seen this season started with the student-athletes all across the roster buying into the program, putting in the time and effort to help build each other up.

"We've got some pieces here that have picked up a lot and come along way, and we've got a couple others that were right on the edge (to come to regionals)," he said. "(They've) put in a lot of work to get to this point and helped us out. Without them, we couldn't have been here."

Burns also pointed to McAlester's newly-started 5th-and-6th-grade program, as well as a strong year in junior high that will only help bolster McAlester tennis heading into the future.

"That's going to be huge for us, getting kids out younger and younger, and playing meaningful tennis," Burns said. "Getting very solid reps early, having some fun and making friends."

"We've got a solid foundation set," he added.

Burns not only credited the student-athletes, but coaches and administration as well for buying in to the program and attributing to its successes.

"Definitely assistant coach (Kimberly) Stone, she's been there helping us out, doing everything that she can (for us). And the junior high coaches...without them, we would be so far behind," he said. "The principals at the high school...(Athletic director James) Singleton and everything he has done."

Burns also made sure to give a pointed shout out to parents as well for being so supportive and doing everything to help the kids, and he's excited to see it continue in seasons to come.

"It's kind of been fun seeing the community kind of come back to life and support," he said.