SPRINGFIELD — Annabeth Helmly has taken over as the Effingham County tennis coach and it’s nothing short of a homecoming party for the former Lady Rebel.
Helmly played softball and tennis at Effingham County, and jumped at the opportunity to return to her old stomping grounds.
“My old softball coach Matt Huntley asked me if I wanted to coach tennis,” Helmly said. “Of course, I was honored to be the coach. It’s cool that he coached me and then saw those same qualities in me to be able to do this.
“That was pretty cool.”
A recent graduate of Georgia Southern, Helmly was a four-year letter winner for the Lady Rebels. Now it’s her turn to guide the next great group of tennis players for Effingham County and she has a skilled bunch of girls and boys to guide.
“The boys team is pretty good,” Helmly said. “They are pretty strong. For the girls, they are looking pretty good too. They are younger and we have a lot of room to grow. I am excited about getting to watch them grow, not only as players but as young adults as well.”
In the coming weeks,
Effingham County will take on powerhouses such as South Effingham, Richmond Hill and Benedictine.
“I think the higher the level of competition you can face the better the return will be for us,” Helmly said. “It’s good practice for our team.”
Senioors Martin Carper and Clark Heller are two of the more experienced players on the boys team. And for the Lady Rebels, Caroline Morgan and Lauren Usher are anchoring the doubles teams.
“The senior boys have emerged as leaders,” Helmly said. “They have been good leaders with it being our first-year coaching. Whenever there is lull moment in practice, they are good at getting the drills going.
“We do have some youngers leaders in Caroline Morgan and Lauren Usher. They have stepped up to number one doubles and have proved to be an awesome pair.”
Helmly is looking forward to building on the competitive nature both teams have shown in recent years.
“As far as tennis goes, (we are) putting in the time,” Helmly said. “If the first season isn’t exactly right, it’s understandable. I want to grow the program, our team and our ability level.
“We want to work on small steps to get to the bigger picture.”