When the coach of the boys varsity tennis team Bill Wong said the season was “successful,” he meant the Division 1 team finished the season second in the league with a 15-2 league record, won the California High School Tennis Classic (CHSTC) tournament and qualified for CCS.
Two major changes took place for the varsity tennis team this season: a new coach and six new freshmen.
“We do a lot more match plays in practices rather than drills, which is a lot more helpful,” senior Greg Dwulet said.
The team appreciates having Wong as their coach.
“Bill’s been a great coach, especially considering it’s his first year,” freshman Cody Fowler said.
Wong’s organization has helped in practices and matches.
“He’s making sure everything goes to plan, and he’s making sure the lineup is the way it’s supposed to be by allowing everyone to get a challenge match in,” freshman Jack Sullivan said. “[Wong is] good at giving everybody an equal opportunity.”
With Wong’s help, 16 highly capable singles players transformed into team players who are exceptional singles and doubles players. Playing on the varsity team has also been an invaluable learning experience for each player.
“The experience on varsity has been good, because it’s great competition against other people [of a whole range of ages],” freshman Jared Eng said.
“I haven’t ever played on a team before,” freshman Christian Beck said. “It’s not about what you personally want but more about what’s good for the team.”
Wong said that the team’s undefeated number one doubles team, Greg and senior Justin Koehler, is unusually strong this year because both Greg and Justin were singles players last year.
The team’s stellar record is not only because of the coach, but also because of the freshmen.
“We have a new crop of freshmen who are really strong and also several players coming back from a year off,” Wong said. “And then [we have sophomore] Spencer [Simonides] who transferred from Menlo and [sophomore] Anthony Bello who didn’t play last year.”
Spencer, Anthony and Jared have been leading the team this season, playing as number one, two and three singles respectively.
Making the varsity tennis team as a freshman is a result of years of training and commitment. Each of the freshmen has actively played tennis for at least three years, regularly plays throughout the week and has United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournament experience.
“[Making the varsity team takes] a lot of practice,” Christian said. “You just need to keep being consistent, play outside on your own time and want to get better.”
It’s clear from the current season alone that having a solid block of strong players significantly helps the team. The fact that many members are fairly young will also benefit the team in future seasons.
“The team’s only as strong as its players,” Anthony said. “We’re having a lot of good seniors leave this year but I think as everyone gets older, of course they’ll get better and we have a lot of good, young players that are catching on.”
While a major portion of the team’s success is attributed to the individual strength of all of its players, Wong said the team also “has the right chemistry.”
“There’s nobody on the team who’s like ‘Oh god, I wish I’d beaten this kid,’ and so they don’t cheer for each other,” Spencer said. “Every time we get into a match, it’s great how our team is so supportive of each other. We just put our competing for higher positions to the side for our matches and get done what we need to get done for our match, and cheer each other on if we need it.”
Sound relationships between underclassmen and upperclassmen make for entertaining practices.
“It’s great,” freshman Braden Holt said. “I really enjoy playing on the team. Occasionally [the older players] mess with us [freshmen] by saying, ‘freshmen go pick up balls’ and stuff, but other than that the atmosphere’s great.”