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Depth allowing Lady Tigers to exceed expectations with unprecedented success


Serena Broussard and her Ozark teammates have put the Lady Tigers among the upper echelon in Class 3 District 5.

Entering Districts this weekend, Ozark (9-6) is in position to contend for one of the top seeds, and perhaps the No. 1 seed, having knocked off defending District champ Nixa, along with Kickapoo.

“It's been a great year,” said Broussard, the Lady Tigers’ No. 3 singles player. “We’re playing way better as a team than I ever dreamed of.”

“I was talking to (former Ozark coach) Greg Hannah and I told him, ‘Believe it or not, we could be voted as the top seed for Districts,’” Lady Tigers coach Mark McBain said. “It would be unusual for us to be in that position. It would be, in my memory, the first time for Ozark as the top seed.”

Broussard and fellow senior Olivia Carpenter make up Ozark’s No. 1 doubles team. They’re among 12 seniors.

“It's nice to have our last year be one of our best years,” Carpenter said. “It’s been satisfying.”

Diana Bonilla, Laura Wolfe, Morgan Sutton and Ella Scott make up the rest of Ozark’s singles players.

Other than track, the dozen seniors are, by far, more seniors than any other Ozark girls sports in recent years.

“The team has grown a lot,” Broussard said. “We're a no-cut team. Everybody is like, 'Let's go have fun playing tennis.’”

Depth has carried the Lady Tigers.

“We struggle at first and second singles and first doubles. But the lower doubles and lower singles are where we come on strong and are hard to beat,” McBain said. “Nobody has risen to the top where they are an elite No. 1. There's not a lot of difference between one and eight. They're all good.”

The Lady Tigers can rotate practice partners and still receive quality competition.

“We can practice at equal levels, instead of there being such a big gap between us,” Broussard said.

McBain expects Ozark to be strong again next season.

“The junior class is a really good class,” he said. “It looks favorable next year's team could be stronger, yet. We could (have) an all-senior top six next year. That's how strong the junior class is.”