It’s been a long time coming. In my four years coaching the Laguna Blanca boys’ tennis team we’ve experienced our fair share of frustration at the hands of the Cate tennis team. What happened yesterday was definitely one of the best moments I’ve had as a coach and a member of a tennis team.
Ben Furukawa and Tristan Prinz were dominant. There’s no other way to put it. They dropped a combined total of 9 games on their way to adding 3 more wins each to their impressive singles records. They now both sit at 20-1 for the season, but that’s not even what’s impressive. What makes me proud to be their coach, both at Laguna and privately, is the way they’ve been doing it. Nothing makes a coach happier than when his players successfully apply what he has taught them.
Tristan has battled a number of injuries and even an exotic parasite since I began coaching him, but his focus and drive is unwavering. He’s been in the singles lineup since freshman year, day one, and even when he’s struggled physically, he’s given everything. He fights for every point, doesn’t care how far up or down he is, and he’s been doing a great job of executing the strategies we’ve been working on.
Ben, unlike Tristan, spent his first year and the beginning of his second at Laguna playing doubles. It’s hard to believe, but it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that he started to buy into the modern grips and strategies I was teaching him (he’s only been playing with a semi-western forehand since late fall of 2011). In that short period, he has become a formidable player who beats opponents with a mix of speed, consistency, and shot-making. Sometimes it’s easy to think of Ben as always having been this good, but he has earned this level of play with hard work and just a short period of time.
Phillip Hicks is a rising star in the Condor League, and in Santa Barbara tennis in general. He is an extremely dangerous player with impressive racquet-head speed. During this match against Cate, he proved to us (and more importantly, to himself) while sweeping his matches that he can blend that raw power with good movement and patience. I was especially impressed with his 6-4 victory over Cate #1 Ahbay Singh, after going down 4-2. The future is very bright for this freshman, who is now 18-3 in singles play this season.
Eddie Conk and Benji Sorensen are good tennis players and great friends, but sometimes that doesn’t translate to #1 caliber doubles team. I can honestly say that in previous seasons we’ve tried this combination with only mixed results. However, despite getting off to a bit of a slow start this season, these guys have proven they belong as the go-to pair in doubles. Now holding a 13-2 record, including a 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 performance against Cate, Eddie and Benji are only just hitting their stride. Yesterday, they showed the intelligent, aggressive net-play that every strong doubles team needs to be successful and I look forward to seeing how this win affects their confidence going forward.
The 11-7 win against Cate, as with every other match we’ve played this season, featured every available Laguna player. As we head off to Spring Break with a 7-0 record and 2-0 in league, each member of this team can take great satisfaction in knowing they’ve been a part of each win. It was also great to see so much support from parents and our AD, Mike Biermann. This tennis family is looking strong!
As we look toward the second half of the season, we must appreciate but not dwell on our victories. We mustn’t become complacent or fall out of practice. These are the greatest road-blocks we have left, but they are entirely within our control. For now, though, celebrate the win!