Youth served: Young Highland boys tennis team strives for improvement
Apr 11, 2018 11:17AM
● By Josh McFadden
Junior Will Olsen will play the second singles varsity player for the Highland High School boys tennis team. (Photo/Haslam Photography)
Coming off a season in which it didn’t win a match, the Highland High School boys tennis team has nowhere to go but up.
The team also has just one senior along with a number of underclassmen. First-year head coach Jeanine Elsholz, who was an assistant last season, is eager to see what progress her players have made and what the new faces can add this season.
“I expect improvement,” she said. “The boys have worked very hard during the offseason, and I am hoping we will finish closer to the top of the region this year. I’m excited to see how our young team performs. Several of our sophomores have earned varsity spots this season.”
Elsholz said a lot can change with her lineup during the first few weeks, as she gets a better sense of which players fit in the right spots. As the season began, junior Daichi Masuki, a foreign exchange student from Japan, filled the first singles slot. Junior Will Olsen will play second singles.
“[Masuki] is a talented player, loves to compete and has been a great addition to our team in helping push the entire team up a level,” she said. “Will Olsen probably worked harder than anyone else on the team last offseason, rewriting his form and adding some offensive weapons to his game. He has a passion for the game and hates to lose. He is a true competitor.”
Abram Toronto will play at third singles, while the doubles teams aren’t set in stone yet. Elsholz said junior Will Dale, sophomore Jake Bauman, sophomore Cole Smith, sophomore Isaac Brickey and junior Jacob Jepsen will contend for the doubles positions.
Though the team is young and had some struggles last season, it isn’t without promise and strong traits. Elsholz said she loves how competitive the players are and they are showing a willingness to work hard to accomplish the team goals.
Elsholz also believes the team will succeed if it focuses on some key objectives.
“If this team will give their very best effort in every match, keep a positive attitude and have fun in the process, this year will be a successful one,” she said.
Playing in Region 6, the Rams will face Olympus, East, Skyline, West and Murray in league play. Elsholz knows the schedule will be challenging, as many teams feature players who play year-round and who have played tennis for several years.
“Currently, all of our players at Highland are involved in a lot of other activities and sports,” she said. “It makes it a lot harder to compete against top players in the state.”
Regardless of how many wins and losses the team accumulates this season, Elsholz said she is happy with the way the team has responded to her as she has taken over the program. She recognizes everyone’s dedication and efforts and is happy in her new role.
“I cannot express how proud of these boys I am already this season,” she said. “They are great kids to work with. It is an honor to be their coach. Because we had a hard time competing last year, at the end of the season they dedicated themselves to working hard and improving during the offseason to try and make a run at a region championship. Almost the entire team put in a lot of offseason hours, working hard to improve. We are a very young team with a lot of great tennis ahead of us.”