I spent the last 6+ months working with our athletic director to bring a freshman tennis team to our school. Traditionally, our school has had a JV and Varsity team. 6 kids on each team. For a school of 3,500 students – that doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for younger players. Most freshman don’t make the cut and they don’t typically try out the next year. A lot of the strong tennis programs in our area have a fall freshman team in addition to the spring JV/Varsity. So I fought and fought. And then after we finally got the approval, the boys team hit a snag because they didn’t have a coach. Which meant I was scrambling with a tight deadline. In fact, I told the AD to put Steve as the coach so we could secure the team and that would buy me some time to figure out a coach.
My persistence paid off. Both the girls and boys are starting their first ever fall freshman tennis program at our high school and we even found a coach who isn’t Steve!
In preparation for these tryouts, Hunter entered a local tournament. Hallie’s high school tennis coach was the director of the tournament and he was excited to learn Hunter would be playing. I didn’t want him to think Hunter is the dedicated player Hallie is. So I let him know soccer is his passion and when he can, he picks up a tennis racquet, but what he lacks in technique he makes up for in tenacity. I think the coach thought I was trying to sandbag him – which was not the case at all! I was just trying to be honest. But the coach shot back in text, “Dude, I know you Kara, you are just saying that but Hunter is going to take the whole thing!! Lol!”
I was pretty confident in my assessment considering his national ranking showed he was 4 out of 4 in his bracket – and his good friend in the same bracket is considerably better than him.
You can imagine my surprise when I watched as he beat each player in his division one-by-one, including the friend who beats him consistently when they train together. When he closed out the last opponent, he secured his first place medal and I was so proud of him…and then I realized I was never going to hear the end of it from the director. (We had a moment during Hallie’s last season where her coach believed in her more than Steve and I, and even Hallie did and he was right then too. He’s now convinced he knows my kids better than I do! I’m just a realist and see my kids for what they are and perhaps underestimate their fight.)
Hunter earned that medal. He played his strengths against his opponents’ weaknesses and he fought hard when he was down and the odds were against him. That’s one thing Hunter has going for him – he’s got plenty of fight.
Two days later he turned around and tried out for the freshman team and made it. He’s going to do double duty of school tennis and club soccer for the season and we’re just hoping his growing pains subside! (He has sprouted this summer and we’re all hoping he slows down just a bit because the tendons around his knee need more time to stretch before he grows any more.)