Bouncin’ Back

Bouncin Back

The tennis season has begun with matches just around the corner and with the players eager to make their way to state. 

The Lakeland Tennis team did very well last year after having three teams in doubles play in the state competition. With previous players and many new athletes, tennis can return to the top. 

“My goal is to place in the top four men’s double, with Brady Hanna, at the state tournament,” Cole Andres, a returning varsity player, said. 

“In order to make it to state, we will need to put the best players in the right positions as either doubles or singles players,” said Shannon Hall, the junior varsity coach. The varsity and junior varsity teams have, for the most part, been established with the exception of certain players switching between the two teams as needed. 

Tennis is both an individual and team sport, but regardless hard work is a must in order to reach certain goals. The coaches plan on working with the athletes on drills regarding serves, positioning, groundstrokes, lobs, etc. Last year, a professional in the sport came to the high school and worked with a couple of Lakeland’s tennis athletes, showing them different drills to improve their skills. These skills were not only noted by the players but also by the coaches. The coaches plan to introduce those drills to new players and reiterate them to returning players once they can practice on their own courts. 

Tennis is at a bit of a disadvantage due to the snowy weather. The tennis courts are currently covered with snow inhibiting our athletes from practicing real game scenarios on the court. This makes it hard not only on the players but also on the coaches because some of the drills are better practiced on the courts rather than in the gym. The snow-covered courts have also affected the first matches of the season as they were postponed. Though this may seem like a bad thing, Hall slightly disagrees. 

“Many of our athletes are new to tennis, so having at least one practice on the court prior to the first match is important so they feel confident they can play by the rules and call their own scores,” Hall said. Although tennis is facing obstacles, the coaches have made sure to create a shared mentality between the two teams. 

The coaches are currently starting the season off with both a positive and focused mentality. “Once practices begin outside, we can set daily objectives for improvement and then task the players with setting their own objectives so they can reflect on their improvement in those areas,” Hall said. Pushing the athletes to create their own work ethic for the sport is essential to success, but the coaches are also trying to create a trusting relationship between themselves and their players. 

“The returning players have that basis of trust already, as all three of us who are coaching this year also coached last year when our varsity and JV seasons were very successful. I believe this will continue with our new players as well,” Hall said. It is also up to the returning players to create a welcoming environment for new athletes as well as be role models. 

Returning varsity and junior varsity players have been leading the tennis team by example since day one. They give the new athletes someone to look up to and show them how Lakeland’s sports program is run. For example, the team captains have demonstrated specific skills, given advice, and led drills which have been a huge help to both the new players and coaches.

“A huge shout out to Cole Andres, Brady Hanna, Ellie Carlson, Malia Batman, and other upperclassmen/returning varsity players for helping out every day,” Hall said. The involvement of the upperclassmen will be helpful in challenging matches for both teams. 

Matches against Coeur d’Alene High School have always been challenging due to their very experienced players. CHS has indoor courts available for their tennis players year-round, something Lakeland lacks. 

Despite this, “Our players compete well against them in matches and tournaments because our players stay mentally focused. A skill that will be taught to the new players,” Hall said. Every match is an experience athletes can learn from going forward.

Tennis has big goals this year, and from the way both coaches and players have started out the season, its no doubt they can make it back up to the top.