Upholding a Winning Legacy: Brighton High School Boys Tennis
May 05, 2016 12:10PM
By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Cottonwood Heights - For the 27 boys on Brighton High School’s tennis team, this year is all about working hard to maintain an undefeated season and uphold the winning legacy of the BHS boys tennis program. With a 5-0 record, the Bengals are well on their way to achieving this goal.
“This season is going really well,” head coach Natalie Meyer said. “The boys all get along really well with each other; they’re very supportive of one another, and I love their team unity.”
For returning players, the group’s strong camaraderie is what separates this season from years past.
“As the season goes on, we become more of a family,” sophomore Parker Larson said. “One of our strengths is cheering for each other and lifting each other up. We get on a totally different level, and it just gets everyone hyped.”
For Meyer, who has been coaching tennis at Brighton for 12 years, what makes this year’s team special is the boys’ humble confidence in both their individual skills and the abilities of their teammates.
“There are no egos on the team this year,” Meyer said. “They are pretty mellow kids, but they are also very competitive, and I think it’s a great mix because we have lot of seniors and a lot of freshmen. When you have nine seniors on your team, there’s going to be a lot of good leadership.”
This even distribution between underclassmen and upperclassmen has created a unique balance for the Bengals this season.
“When you bring in young blood, it stirs things up,” Meyer said. “All I have to do is tell my older guys ‘Hey, we have some really good ninth-graders coming in,’ and the rest of the guys who have already been on the team go out and work that much harder because they don’t want these younger kids to take their spot.”
Whether players are new to tennis or have been playing for years, Meyer is adamant about emphasizing the importance of commitment and dedication to both the Brighton team and the sport of tennis in general.
“We’ve set a pretty high precedence and level of excellence in tennis, and the players know that if they get to be a part of this team, it’s a big deal,” Meyer said. “They know that they have to come in and be serious about their tennis and that the level of expectation is pretty high.”
Prior to last season, Brighton had gone undefeated in the region for 15 straight seasons. Similarly, the Bengals have claimed the state championship for the past seven years, making them the biggest threat in their Class 5A.
“I feel like we have a good chance of holding the title again this year,” junior Braxton Pardoe said. “But next year will be a challenge, because we won’t have our seniors.”
With seniors making up a third of the Bengal’s team, the underclassmen are aware of the challenges they’ll likely face next year to defend their reputation. However, with strong team camaraderie and a talented group of younger players, the players are confident they will uphold a successful winning streak for years to come.
Looking forward to the rest of this season, Meyer is excited to see how the boys continue to bond and excel as a team. With a larger group than normal though, she’s still fine-tuning skills and determining how to best utilize the talent.
“I have the great problem of too many kids and not enough spots,” Meyer said. “So the challenge is always to find the right combination that will have the best outcome. I think we’re getting pretty close.”
With just a few weeks left in their season, the Bengals are playing with more energy and excitement than Meyer has ever seen in her team. The Boys Tennis State Tournament is at Liberty Park May 19–21.