Last season, Charles H. Flowers High School's No. 1 singles player Myron Davis recorded his highest-ever finish at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's state tennis tournament.
The dynamic 5-foot-5 senior took third place after losing to eventual state champion Mateo Cevallos of Thomas S. Wootton.
Now, the Jaguars must adjust to life after Davis graduated — he was a player that represented the program and the county with extreme class and skill.
“Without Myron, we don't have that presence there,” said No. 2 boys singles player Qamar Ghani. “He used to drive us to do a lot better because he was a great player. But it's also good because we get our chance to play singles, too.”
Ghani is one part of a trio of talented juniors that lead Flowers' team, which was in good spirits on Tuesday at Tucker Road Park after an 8-1 victory against Oxon Hill that improved its overall record to 3-0.
The other two players are No. 1 boys singles player DaMani Eubanks and No. 1 girls singles player Chante Lombre.
Both Eubanks and Qamar are members of the Prince George's Tennis & Education Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that lists its mission statement “is to support the athletic excellence, academic achievement, and civic duty of Prince George's County youths by providing an organized program of mentoring, educational assistance, tennis instruction, and competition.”
At PGTEF, both Eubanks and Qamar trained with Davis in addition to the time they spent playing against him at Flowers. Both said the time they spent with him helped them learn and be able to grow into leaders this season.
“I think the way we've been prepared, it moves in a cycle where each of our best players graduates and moves up and we have a new one to fill his spot,” Eubanks said. “It's a little, not harder, but it's a little less safe. With Myron there, there was always some guarantee. Now we have to be a guarantee.”
On a team with only four seniors on the roster, Lombre said that prior to the season she walked the hallways of the school to recruit more players to join one of the better tennis programs in Prince George's County. Of course, Eleanor Roosevelt remains the undisputed leader in the area until another team manages to upset the Raiders.
“I'm proud of where we are, especially because we had to really recruit people from school and get new players,” said Lombre, who also trains with at PGTEF. “We lost a lot of players last year, so we had to find some new people who were interested and a lot of people came out. We're on a winning streak so far, so it's good.”
For coach Rob Vinson, the task at hand has been to educate those newcomers about the game of tennis and, essentially, go back to the basics.
“It's real tough because we've got a lot of kids who this is their first time playing tennis and you're teaching them Tennis 101 for the most part,” Vinson said. “They haven't had formal lessons, just the lessons we can squeeze in from the time practice starts and the season starts.”
As much as Davis had an impact on raising the tennis awareness at the school, Vinson said that Davis' feat will be hard to duplicate without the proper work ethic and tennis acumen.
“They saw the final results and know the final results, but as much as you talk to them, it's still a different level of competition to do what Myron did,” Vinson said. “We just do the best we can.”
That hasn't stopped the Jaguars from being competitive, though. And they're excited about yet another chance to try and defeat Roosevelt on April 16.
“It's kind of nerve-wracking sometimes [going against Roosevelt],” Lombre said. “We know we can do it. It's just getting there and performing like we know we can.”
Added Eubanks: “It's friendly competition. Most of the kids at Roosevelt, we train with them, too, so it's all good.”