Last year North Stokes tennis coach Julian McKenzie came out of retirement to coach the Lady Vikings tennis program but recently stepped down handing it over to former student Mandee Bennett.
During McKenzie’s time at North he led the ladies tennis to conference wins, regionals, and six state championships.
Bennett said she has a lot of respect for her former coach.
“When Mr. McKenzie approached me I felt right at home and blessed to be asked. It’s a good program and I’d like to see it continue that way.”
Bennett remembers McKenzie as the type of coach who always kept you on your toes.
“He always threw out words and would say, ‘Go look that up if you don’t know what it means.’ He was always getting us ready for the SAT and we didn’t even know it.”
Bennett’s love of the sport led her to coach tennis at South Stokes for two seasons before coming back to North where she’s been for the past 15 years. During that time she’s worked with girls’ basketball, softball, and volleyball.
“North Stokes feels like home to me. It’s probably because I graduated here but I really want the best for the students and I want to see them do well.”
The coach said working with athletes is something she enjoys.
“It’s a great to see that spark when a girl does something she thought she never could,” Bennett said.
The tennis team is set to begin workouts in July with practices two nights a week.
“In the offseason I encourage them to play tennis and play other sports. Other sports can help them a lot with their agility and movement.”
The program has one senior returning and Bennett hopes to have up to ten girls when the season begins in full swing on August 1.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.