CLARKSVILLE — The Pottsville Apaches and Lady Apaches competed in the Class 4A State Tournament in record numbers on Monday through Wednesday at the University of the Ozarks.
Pottsville had 12 players qualify and play in the state tournament.
For those keeping track — that’s every player on the team. Apaches head coach Keri McAlister called it an “amazing feat.”
“Three players advancing to the quarterfinal round and one player making it to the semis was a true testament to the grittiness of my players,” she said. “When you stand toe to toe with the best overall in the state of Arkansas, some nationally ranked players, and just lean in and go for it with nerves and anxiety but never quitting, that says something about the caliber of not just players but people they are.”
Pottsville didn’t have any state champions, however Isabel Baker fell in the semifinals and again in the third-place match for a fourth-place overall finish.
For McAlister, team attitude all season has been impressive.
“For a sport that is thought of as individual, only playing and qualifying in singles or pairs, there is not another group of athletes I have ever witnessed display more teamwork than this group,” she said. “They are not just teammates they are family. They challenge each other every day to be the best. If one succeeds, they all succeed.
“With five new players on the team this year it would have been easy to leave them behind, but my returning players surrounded them with positivity and high standards and would not them settle for anything but their best, and that’s why first time players became state qualifiers.”
McAlister said her senior leadership played a big role in creating that team culture.
“My two seniors, Isabel and Heath, have been instrumental in creating a healthy, competitive, positive team culture,” she said. “All of my players commit themselves to creating a climate of family, this family mentality paired with a growth mindset has and will continue to breed success. Their accomplishments speak to their tennis skills … their daily decisions and devotion to being honest, hard-working, caring human beings for themselves and each other scream out to their character. They are true champions.”