'We want to be the best'
His tennis team’s top seven players include two seventh-graders, three eighth-graders, a freshman and a sophomore.
It’s no wonder that Philip Simmons High School coach Richard Schulz says this is the team of the future.
“But, the future might be now,” Schulz said.
Only time will tell, and the Iron Horses should know just how good they are come November when the playoffs roll around. But the Iron Horses have potential – and time on their side.
“The girls are very young, and they have the potential to be great,” said Schulz, who also coaches the boys’ team, which won the school’s first-ever state championship in May. “We will be the underdog in every match because we are so young. But that’s on paper. Playing the schedule we do will make us a better team.”
Philip Simmons competes in Region 6-AA, which creates a problem because Oceanside Collegiate is the only other school in the conference to field a team. That allows Schulz to schedule the Palmetto State’s heavyweights including SCISA powers Ashley Hall and Porter-Gaud, along with High School League stars Bishop England, Wando, Academic Magnet and Oceanside Collegiate.
“All six teams will make the state playoffs and all six could make the state semifinals,” Schulz said.
The top singles players (in order from No. 1-7) include freshman Sydney Mims, sophomore Maddy Boling, eighth-grader Ansley Cohen, eighth-grader Amelia Whirrett, seventh-grader Breeze Simon, eighth-grader Olivia DeMarco and eighth-grader Izzie Johnson.
All of the players are talented, but Cohen, at No. 3 singles, is the most improved player, while Simon, who is the No. 5 singles player, could be No. 1 by the end of the season.
Simon’s brother, Coy, plays for the boys’ team and is the No. 1 player in the South in his age group and one of the top players in the country. Like her brother, Breeze Simon is an ambidextrous tennis player, hitting forehands with both her left and right hands.
“She, alone, is worth the price of admission,” Schulz said.
DeMarco, the No. 6 singles player, stands out because of her all-around talent.
“She is the best athlete on the team, period – end of conversation,” Schulz said.
Schulz is an accomplished coach, but points out he is also a good salesman. Just ask the No. 8 player, Kylee Kellerman. He convinced her to come out for the team and she can have a bright future.
“She’s been the star of the Philip Simmons basketball team for the last year or two years,” Schulz said of the freshman. “She scored 22 points in one game.”
Schulz loves tennis. And he loves to coach his sport. He says he enjoys coaching the girls.
“The girls are easier to coach,” Schulz said. “The girls are more team-oriented. The boys are more competitive. The girls support each other every way. We don’t have any divas on this team.”
“We schedule the best teams because we want to be the best,” Schulz said. “You have to beat the best to be the best.”