Saturday, April 14, 2012

High School Tennis Team - Match #5 (5/14)

We had another successful week for the high school tennis team.  We were able to play both of our matches without a weather delay.  It was quite an exhausting week, with practice three days and matches on two days.
We have completed four weeks of the season.
I am the varsity coach for the girls tennis team, but I allow anyone to play who is willing to make the effort and commitment. This means that I have junior varsity players who are just beginning to learn tennis as well as boys of all levels in addition to the varsity girls.  Most sports at the high school have separate teams (and coaches) for boys, girls and varsity and junior varsity.  This is done so that each skill level can get the best instruction possible as well as similar competitive levels.
I choose to allow the various level players as I don't feel there is an alternative -- either play at varsity level or don't play.  This seems counterintuitive to me and to the learning process in our particular situation.  So, I made the decision to include all players who are willing to play, be respectful and learn.  Through the years, this has been stressful, difficult at times, but also very rewarding.
Tennis is a complicated sport requiring hand-eye coordination, memory skills, fitness, dedication and patience.  I find it to be a "mature" sport, requiring a different level of attention to detail that many other sports require.  So, it can be discouraging, difficult and complex at times.  To see players "learn" to do all the things required to play a single game on their own, is very rewarding.  To watch someone who dedicates hours to tennis and actually succeed at being able to keep score, hit the ball and earn a point or two -- is a great sight to see!
Additionally, because it is a sport, there are "sportsmanship" issues that have to be taught along the way.  And sportsmanship is really a character issue -- honesty, integrity, safety, awareness. These are characteristics that players learn from their upbringing and also from their coach.
And sadly, these are the issues that can make a tennis match enjoyable or hellish.

We had our match on Friday and pulled off our second victory of the season.  Our team won 6-3 and our girls are getting to be more seasoned players.  The girls on the team played well and were supportive of their teammates.  They were helpful by picking up their trash, carrying supplies to and from the bus and congratulating our opponents on good shots.  It was a pleasure to be coach on Friday.

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