The NS boys tennis team is off to a good start this season with a 3-2 region win against Juab and a 4-1 win against Uintah. Going into the matches, the boys were ready out on the court.
“I played well. I’m looking forward to my next matches, and hopefully fixing my consistency and a few other little things in the matches to come,” said senior and first singles’ player Benjamin Palmer.
Although the team has been successful thus far, the season has not been without its challenges. One of the biggest obstacles the team has faced is the sheer size of the team. Thirty-four boys tried out for the team this year, a record number. Because tennis at NS is no-cut, getting nearly three dozen tennis players adequate practice and playing time is understandably difficult.
To try and give players more instruction time, the practices have been split in two; the less experienced players practice immediately after school, from 3:30-5:00, and the more experienced players practice later in the afternoon, from 4:30-6:00.
“The split practice times are going to create more of a one on one or individual time between the coaches and players,” said assistant coach Sterling Whipple.
Not only does it allow for more one on one time between coaches and players, but it has created an extra incentive for the boys.
“I think it adds incentive to the JV boys to challenge up and make it to the later practice,” Palmer said.
One of the most logistically challenging aspects of the team is initially ranking the players and putting them in a ladder of experience, the varsity players at the top, and the most inexperienced at the bottom.
The ladder was decided this year by separating the team into four groups in alphabetical order, and each person played everyone within the group. In these games, players gain points and then placed in the general ladder based solely on these points.
“I had an easy group, but other players that should be on varsity got put in groups with other varsity players,” said senior Brenden Blackham. “so they are placed lower on the ladder, and have to fight for the spot they should be at.”
The method of deciding the ladder has created some temporary problems, but the coaches have been trying to improve the program.They have been working hard to help the boys become players in every aspect of the word form losing to winning.
“I want the boys to be strong players in the sense that they are strong mentally, physically, and moving on from a mistake,” said assistant coach Sterling Whipple.
As the varsity team prepares to take region this year, they plan to hit practices hard and learn as much from practice as they can.
“We’re going to take it one day at a time, not just through matches but practices also,” Whipple said. “The boys need to put full effort in every day in order to win region this year and work on the basics like footwork, follow throughs, serves, and contact points.”
The coaches have bought equipment to help the boys achieve the goal of becoming strong, including medicine balls, agility ladders, and a new ball machine. They are hoping that the new equipment will help the boys, and with a region match behind the boys they are starting to feel confident for the season ahead.
“I’m hoping that with the new equipment the players will improve faster than they have in the past,” Whipple said.