This post is coming a little later than my typical annual review, but there was no shortage of great things to write about.
As I looked back at last year’s review, I noticed a trend. It’s actually something I think about often. Tennis, and specifically the Thorpe Tennis community, returns every effort I give, with interest.
In 2018, I worked on 258 days, including one stretch of 51 consecutive days. I loved almost every minute of it. That’s not to say there aren’t difficult moments, but every time I step on-court I am filled with a passion for what we can do together to grow as players and as people.
This last spring, Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis rewarded me with my 100th win in 9 seasons as their head coach. We graduated a class that went 52-12 in four years of regular season play and reached the CIF D4 Quarterfinals in each of their last two seasons.
The summer was filled with several blocks of group training weeks, where players got 2-4 hours in per day and made some big gains. I also did many hitting lessons this summer, with students of all ages. Of particular satisfaction was the time spent continuing to improve the tennis of some recent graduates of my high school programs (Conrad Perry, I’m looking at you!).
Also, this summer, I had the pleasure of preparing a special group of incoming freshmen girls for high school tennis. Madeleine Nicks, Ava Rice, Amara Murphy, and Lauren Neubauer all put in big time over the summer to hit the ground running at Laguna Blanca. While I don’t coach that team, I am very excited to see what that core unit can do in the coming years and love that I get to be part of it.
Speaking of girls’ high school tennis, when I think about the program that we’ve developed together at the Cate School, it always gets me fired up. This year, Cate Girls’ Tennis went 12-1 during regular season play and put in a solid effort against eventual CIF D1 Champions, Mira Costa, in the playoffs.
During this period, my girls also helped me to reach the 100-win mark across 10 seasons coaching at Cate. Cate Girls’ Tennis has been utterly dominant in Tri-Valley League play, as well as fielding some of the best players in CIF Individuals year after year.
One of the biggest revelations of the year was the progress I got to make with one of my most dedicated students, Jake Gidney. Over the last year, Jake has improved by leaps and bounds through his commitment to being a better tennis player every day. He’s now wading into tournament play and is quite comfortable playing with players several years older than him. Keep an eye on that kid 😉
Part of the reason players like Jake get to reach new levels and play against stronger competition is that Thorpe Tennis has such a great participation rate with group sessions.
I have been working to expand these groups to offer players the opportunity to 1) play more often 2) play with different opponents at different levels 3) have a ton of fun! We had some absolutely ridiculous moments in 2018, let me tell you.
All of this is to say, I feel very honored to be a coach and a role model to this wonderful group of people. I get so much positive feedback and support from my students and their families. I am filled with the joy of passing on my knowledge and just being part of the process. This motivates me daily to improve what I have to offer as a coach and to reach my full potential as a human being. This is truly a virtuous cycle!
Laguna Blanca Boys’ Tennis has made a triumphant return to the CIF Division 4 Playoffs after a one-year absence. After finishing the regular season 13-3 and earning a freelance wildcard spot in the playoffs, Laguna has now won two playoff games and enters a third tomorrow against Cabrillo/Lompoc.
Laguna Blanca v. Paso Robles (15-3)
Paso Robles came to Furukawa Tennis Garden boasting a 14-6 record and seemed like a tough draw for a wildcard round match for the #5-seeded Owls. What transpired, though, was one of Laguna’s most dominant performances of the season.
Alex Furukawa, Kai Nakamura, and Victor Liu all swept their singles opponents, giving Laguna a significant edge, and the top doubles pairing of juniors Conor Scheinberg/Jason Barnick also swept while playing down at the #3 position. Kovid Mishra and Kelvin Chen added two sets, including a 6-2 victory over the Paso #1 team.
Laguna Blanca @ Carpinteria (11-7)
This was a very familiar match-up, as these teams play each other twice each season, but anything can happen in the playoffs and Carpinteria is known for making strategic lineup adjustments. Though Laguna had beaten the Warriors (10-8, 12-6), the win was not a given.
After the first round-of-play, the two teams were knotted in a 3-3 tie, with Laguna winning 2-of-3 in singles, while Carpinteria snagged 2-of-3 in doubles. In fact, the match remained tightly contested until Laguna freshman Kai Nakamura defeated junior Jeremy Saito to end the second round-of-play, giving Laguna a 7-5 lead. Nakamura and Saito had played an hour-long set in their last meeting, with Saito prevailing 10-8 in the tie-breaker, but this time Nakamura was more aggressive and confidently ended the set at 6-4.
In the third round, Alex Furukawa recorded a 6-4 win against Saito and Scheinberg/Barnick continued their streak of wins as the Owls’ top doubles team. Nakamura and Liu added wins at #2 and #3 singles to bring the score to 11-7.
The Owls play next on Friday, May 12th in the second round of CIF Playoffs against Cabrillo/Lompoc. Cabrillo finished the regular season 15-2 and beat Oakwood of Hollywood in the first round. The match will be held at Laguna Blanca at 3pm. Please come out and support the Owls as they look to reach the CIF Quarterfinals for the first time in team history!