Semoball

SENIOR RECOGNITION: Sikeston tennis players reflect on careers with Bulldogs

Sikeston senior tennis players pose for a picture at the Sikeston High School tennis courts, on Thursday, April 16, 2020. Pictured (from left to right): Leyton Jenkins, Gavin Stoner, Lang Li, Warren Chinwuko, Connor Clark, and Josiah Degen.
Alex Wallner/Standard Democrat

SIKESTON — With the cancellation of spring athletics for the 2020 season, seniors in the Standard-Democrat coverage are not able to have final moments with their teammates.

Below is the fourth part of a series of stories on recognizing senior athletes, where they are going next, what they loved most about playing their respective sport at their school, and more.

The series continues with the Sikeston boys’ tennis team. The Bulldogs had six seniors on the team.

“I think they’re a great bunch of guys,” Sikeston boys’ tennis head coach Marc Jannin said. “They have a lot of hard work ethic. I like their personalities; they all seem to get along and accepting of each other, and they’re fun to coach.”

Leyton Jenkins

Leyton Jenkins

Other sports, activities, and clubs… Played on the football team; Sikeston Bleacher Bums

Plans after high school… Attending Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and majoring in electrical technology

Favorite tennis memory… “Running our mile every day. It was the best part.”

What got you interested in tennis… “My friends got me interested in it. The more I played it, the more I enjoyed it.”

Advice for underclassmen… “Just practice. Practice makes perfect.”

Grant Stoner

Grant Stoner

Other sports, activities, and clubs… Played on the football team; Sikeston Bleacher Bums, National Honor Society, Link Crew, Junior Board of Directors, FBLA, DECA

Plans after high school… Attending Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., and has an undecided major.

Advice for underclassmen… “Treat every match like it’s your last because you don’t know when it will be taken from you.”

What got you interested in tennis… “Warren (Chinwuko) and Tommy Gilmore would ask me to play tennis, and finally, I was like, ‘Might as well.’ I started last year.”

Favorite tennis memory… “We were doing a doubles match — me and Gary McClain — and our match was up, and I was running around, I couldn’t find him, and finally I look up, and he’s in a tree. Just sitting in a tree.”

Warren Chinwuko

Warren Chinwuko

Other sports, activities, and clubs… Played on the boys’ soccer team; Science Olympiad, National Honor Society, A+, Link Crew

Plans after high school… Attending a four-year college or university, and has an undecided major.

Advice for underclassmen… “If anyone is trying to do sports, clubs, or activities at school, I think it’s really important that they take action and do their best every single moment. You never know if you will have another day where you have a chance to do something that you want to do.”

What got you interested in tennis…“I wanted to challenge myself at something I wasn’t that good at, so, that’s why I started playing tennis. I wanted to challenge myself that I could overcome with the obstacles that I have to face, and that’s what kind of wanted me to play tennis.”

Favorite tennis memory… “During the offseason, we had morning practice from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. I like those morning routines because everyone becomes close, and we work out together and try to be better at certain things we want to work on; as a team, we wanted to accomplish the same goals, so you become motivated to do better as a team.”

Josiah Degen

Josiah Degen

Other sports, activities, and clubs… Key Club, ASTRA, TAP, Sikeston Bleacher Bums, National Honor Society

Plans after high school… Attending Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo., and majoring in IT infrastructure and cybersecurity

Advice for underclassmen… “Take advantage of the time you have. I only played for about two weeks, but take advantage of it and enjoy it.”

Favorite tennis memory… “How quickly the team accepted me. It just felt good to be accepted, and everyone made me feel at home.”

What got you interested in tennis… “All my other friends were doing it, and they told me to do it.”

Lang Li

Lang Li

Other sports, activities, and clubs… National Honor Society, Key Club, TAP, Spanish Club

Plans after high school… Attending a four-year university

Advice for underclassmen… “Keep pushing yourself and never give up.”

What got you interested in tennis… “I wanted to pick a sport, so I picked tennis. I started playing in the fifth grade.”

Favorite tennis memory… “Winning a match.”

Connor Clark

Connor Clark

Other sports, activities, and clubs… National Honor Society, Model UN, Link Crew

Plans after high school… Attending the University of Missouri in Columbia, and planning to go into the Army Reserves

Advice for underclassmen… “Enjoy it while you can and make sure that you have fun because it could be over in an instant.”

Favorite tennis memory… “Running the mile every single day before practice.”

What got you interested in tennis… “When I was a sophomore, I decided to do a sport, and I thought that this one would be an easy sport, but it wasn’t. I still love it.”

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