Longhorn tennis team features new coach, highly-touted player

By Matt Hill

   MOUNTAIN CITY--A new era of tennis has begun at Johnson County High School, but a familiar face will be among the Watauga Conference's elite.
   Former Longhorn basketball great Ryan Arnold takes over as head coach this season, and senior Adam Cornett should give him instant success.
   Cornett has Arnold excited about this season. Cornett is considered to be one of the area's best players.
   "He's played No. 1 seed the last three years," Arnold said. "He's a great leader toward the other kids. He's the real deal."
   Cornett advanced to the regionals two years ago as a sophomore, but was knocked off in the District 1-AA Tournament last year by a foreign exchange student from Sullivan Central.
   With both of Central's top players gone, Cornett should be the favorite to win the district title and might possibly advance to the state tournament.
   "I think he's got a great shot," Arnold said. "I don't know what the other teams have, but the only thing standing in his way is himself. I feel like if he comes to play his game there's nobody better in the conference."
   Everybody in the Watauga Conference pretty much knows what Cornett can do. The rest of the boys players are pretty inexperienced, but some talent is there.
   "The rest of them are all first year players," Arnold said. "We just need to get some matches under our belt."
   One of Arnold's basketball players, Justin Genaille, has joined the squad.
   "He's been looking good the last few days," Arnold said.
   Harrison Hutchinson, Jared Angel, James Cox and Jared Fields should all contribute to the Longhorn lineup.
   The girls squad is also inexperienced, as they're all freshmen and sophomores.
   Arnold is expecting big things from Mandy Howard and Amanda Colvin this season.
   "They're going to be good players," Arnold said.
   There are a lot of freshmen girls on the team that Arnold thinks will improve with match experience.
   "They're all getting better," Arnold said. "We just need to get them some matches."
   Despite the inexperience, tennis in Johnson County seems to be getting popular again.
   Arnold wants the sport to become one that the kids will enjoy.
   "The program hasn't been very strong in awhile," Arnold said. "We want to build the program, and make it into something they want to do."