Big Challenges in a Building Year

Boys tennis members face big challenges as the former top 5 seniors have graduated


Dawn Razor

Against SCW on 04/07022

Marissa Horn

by Benton Dietrich, Photo Editor

Tennis is a sport that can be quite confusing to many who are used to the tournament styles and play styles of other sports. Its ranking system being integral to the way games and tournaments are played make determining rank order very important and telling for both singles and doubles. 

“So how tennis works is there’s six varsity spots,” Boys Tennis coach Johnathan Flaxbart began, “so the boys on the team have to play one another and what are called Challenge Matches to establish rank order.”

This rank order normally will slightly change over the year but the top four out of six members last year were seniors and graduated out of playing. Many younger and less experienced members have had to step up and take their place, members like Junior Luc Bourgeade, who has gone from fifth in the rank order to first. This puts a lot of responsibility on everyone’s shoulders as more will be expected of them and they will face off against stronger opponents.

“So we lost, like, all of our seniors, and we didn’t have any seniors this year. So I was like the next in line,” Junior Luc Bourgeade said,  “It’s just hard because I’m playing all the number ones from other schools. And many of those are, they’re really good. Like, a lot of them are going D1. So I have to really humble myself, and I really have to just work on my tennis. Because it’s, it’s not at the level where I can beat all these guys. So I just have to learn to just play my own tennis and just improve my level”.

Bourgeade believes that despite facing difficult opponents, it is good for him to be learning from facing these opponents. He also believes that it is good for the rest of the team to get in as many matches against tougher opponents as they can, using each game as a learning experience.

“The big teams aren’t a problem because that gives all our players more than enough games and sometimes our JV players, when there’s a lot of opponents they get to play several matches. So it’s actually positive whenever there’s a lot of players to train against,” Bourgeade said.

Coach Flaxbart admits that this year will likely be a building year with the team being younger and many of the top seniors on the team graduating. The goal is to create a team that understands their opponents and that can learn to play all parts of the game the best they can.

“The more times you’re out there hitting, the more your body is just going to know ‘Oh, the balls coming, I need to step to the left. Oh the balls coming, I should have my racket up here,” Flaxbart said, “Next year, hopefully, those will be automatic and they won’t have to think about where they’re standing or how they’re swinging. And then we can start to develop more of the finer points of the game.”

The problem thus far for the team has been playing matches to help hone in on these skills. Frustratingly, out of seven scheduled matches they have only been able to play four. Spring weather and other factors such as roster size have been fairly limiting over the season so far, especially against larger teams.

“Yeah, the weather has been a nightmare. A lot of the schools we play have teams easily twice, three times our size. Like today, we have a match for us liberty, I checked their roster, there are 40 kids on the Liberty tennis team, there’s only going to be 14 at the match because I’m only bringing the 10 that we have” Flaxbart said.

Despite a few troubles so far into the tennis season, it’s important they stay hopeful and confident. In tennis mentality can be everything, the make or break for a good amount of games. There is of course a lot of physical ability and muscle training, but mental ability will always keep up to the same level of importance if not more.

“The hardest part about playing tennis is definitely the mentality to it, it’s all a mental game. So the hardest part during a game is keeping your cool, staying focused on every point. If you start losing, and you start getting angry, that is your worst enemy” Bourgeade said.

The team expects to play out more games as the season goes on, and to improve constantly as the training and game go on. So far they have already seen better and better performances, and are hopeful for the upcoming games and season.