Rams tennis serves lessons for life
Oct 31, 2016 03:38PM
● By Travis Barton
The girls tennis team at Highland High School stop for a photo. The team had four players qualify for the 4A state tournament. (Jeanine Elsholz/Highland Girls Tennis)
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By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Sugar House, Utah - The Highland Rams girls tennis team capped off its season by finishing third in a tough Region 5 with four members qualifying for the state tournament. Isa Huhane and Evelyn Lords competed in singles while Lauren Mayeda and Anna Leone competed in doubles, respectively.
What may have impressed head coach Sharon Snyder even more was the number of players on the team. In her 16th year at Highland, Snyder saw her tennis team increase to 35 players this year.
“It’s probably my largest number of kids I’ve ever had on a team. They kept coming and we kept taking,” Snyder said.
It’s an upward trend in sports, Snyder said, to not cut kids regardless of their beginner status. As a result, she gets to see a player’s progress throughout their Highland High School career.
“I especially like seeing freshmen come in as beginners and end up on the varsity team their junior and senior year. That’s really fun and really rewarding for me,” Snyder said.
With a large group of underclassmen, Snyder may have more opportunities to witness that progression. All three singles players return in addition to their second doubles team.
Snyder said she’s looking forward to it considering the chemistry the team had this season.
“We had a really good chemistry this year, everybody worked hard and had a lot of fun,” Snyder said. She would require players to attend all home matches, even those not participating, to cheer on their teammates.
That camaraderie is perhaps best embodied by co-captains and doubles partners Raili Brush and Olivia Romney.
The seniors were doubles partners during their sophomore seasons when they “really goofed around on the court and didn’t take it seriously.” When Snyder paired the friends together for their senior season, Brush said they were nervous to be together again, but the duo proved to be the proper foils for one another.
“As the season progressed we got really well at playing together and knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Brush said.
Besides their abilities on the court, their friendship proved to help each other mentally as well.
“I get frustrated on the court and she knows how to talk me down,” Brush said adding that she reminds Romney about the joy of playing the sport when she might become nervous about losing.
That sort of trusting relationship stretched to their coach as well. With so many girls on the team, Snyder had to delegate many responsibilities to her assistant coaches, captains and members of the varsity team. By doing so, Snyder said, it helped build that team chemistry.
Brush said she loved playing for Snyder learning from her example about patience.
“She’s a great coach. She’s so patient with every player, I’d get so frustrated on the court and she’d be so patient with me and help get my mind back into playing,” Brush said.
Snyder said one thing she enjoys about high school team sports are the teaching opportunities.
“If you can teach [students] life skills through the sports that they play, that’s really the goal is to teach them lessons in life,” Snyder said. “I can count on one hand how many kids went on to play college sports, but I hope they learn life lessons like how to contribute to something bigger than themselves.”