Huskies Boy’s Tennis Wrap Up Another Quick-Served Tennis Season
Jun 10, 2016 08:38AM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
For the 21 players on the Hillcrest High School boys tennis team, another fast-paced season is officially in the books.
With their season beginning at the end of February and stretching through late April, the Huskies had only about seven weeks to reach their maximum potential.
“There was definitely progress made this season,” Coach James said. “But with weather and stuff like that during our season, there wasn’t leaps and bounds of progress, but for the people who showed up and didn’t know much about tennis, I think they learned quite a bit.”
The 21 players that came out for the season this year were more than James remembers having in recent years. And with just a few returning players, a majority of the Huskies’ members were new to the team, with a few who were new to the sport of tennis in general.
“My objective was to get these guys out there and have fun with it,” James said. “And in general, the team had great attitudes and really did have some fun.”
As far as James can tell, he reached his goal of encouraging players to enjoy the lifelong game.
“They do fall in love with it [tennis],” James said. “They go out over the center-time and get after it a little bit more and they have that energy you look for as a coach.”
Though James said he took certain measures to ensure the boys had fun during the season, he admits that having a team of willing players made his job fairly simple.
“It was a really good group of kids,” James said. “I let the captains do a lot of leadership things and they did a really great job.”
This year James appointed both a senior captain, Nit Rathi, and a junior captain, Jackson Summerhays, who he says made great impressions on the team and positively impacted the team’s unity.
“They are both pretty experienced players,” James said. “They were really good at taking younger players and working with them and helping them adjust.”
James said that after the regional season concluded, he received a substantial amount of positive feedback from both parents and players. He hopes, too, that players who intend on returning to the team again next season make an effort to continue practicing and improving over the summer.
“Our season is so short, the players pretty much have to make progress outside of the season,” James said, “because inside of the season is when we really need to work on fine-tuning things.”
One of James’ goals as a coach each year, besides fine-tuning his player’s skills and getting them ready to compete, is to be a stable leader for the group.
“I really try to be present every day for the team,” James said. “And I think that’s what Hillcrest wants me to do, is just be a presence for the team and provide continuity.”
With the 2016 season marking his third year as head coach for the Huskies, James, who is also a Spanish teacher at Hillcrest, believes his consistency as a coach has helped to build a solid foundation for the tennis program.
For James, coaching isn’t just about showing up every day on the tennis courts and telling the players what they are doing right and wrong — it’s about being a regular, reliable figure that players can depend on and trust to help make them better both on and off the court.
In order to further establish his presence in the Hillcrest tennis community, and to encourage players to continue practicing and improving in the off season, James holds tennis camps after the school year ends.
“I’ve been doing summer tennis camps every summer to try and encourage kids to come out and play,” James said. “I haven’t had a ton of success, but I keep trying to spread the word around the neighborhood that this is a great opportunity to get out and play tennis.”
This year James’ tennis camps will be held in June, with practices lasting from 7 to 8:30 a.m. each day.
“Hopefully this season we planted the seed to have some fun,” James said. “Now I just hope these players…take that and go with it on their own over the summertime and improve.”