New High School girls tennis players are in it for the ‘love’ of the game
The Wareham High School girls tennis team doesn’t seem to have much room for improvement.
The team went 25-1 last season, making it to the state finals. How can they top a performance like that? Coach Geoff Swett doesn’t plan to.
With many of last season’s star players having since graduated, Swett doesn’t expect to be back in the finals this year. Instead, he plans to spend the next several years turning the team’s eight new players into a dynasty.
“The younger they are, the better it is,” Swett said, “because they’ll have that much more time to develop as players.”
The “rookies,” as Swett calls them, consist of three eighth graders, three sophomores and two juniors.
“I like how it’s different from other sports,” said junior Gisella Priestley. “I didn’t think about how much technique goes into it, and now I want to learn all of the technique.”
Priestley was also inspired by the team’s co-captain, Brooklyn Bindas.
“She hyped up tennis so much,” Priestley said, “I wanted to try it out.”
Sophomore Christina Ulianelli joined the team because her friends told her it would be fun.
“Any other sport, I don’t like,” she said.
The new players have only been in unofficial matches so far. Swett said that they have a lot to learn, and will have to set aside a lot of their time in order to learn it. He noticed that the best players in last year’s season were the ones who played extensively in the off-season.
“If I can get them to love the game,” he said, “then they’ll play in the off-season, and that’s a critical aspect to the game.”
Swett also noticed that his players have an average GPA of 97.
“I joke with the principal about why all the smart kids go out for tennis,” he said. “I don’t know the answer to that question.”
Swett said that, contrary to what one might expect, being academically gifted is a disadvantage for new tennis players. Since they are used to succeeding in school, the difficulty of the sport might quickly discourage them.
“In tennis, it’s really important that you can delay your gratification,” he said.
Swett plans to delay his own gratification, helping his rookies slowly grow into a crop of all-star seniors.
More importantly than winning, he wants to make tennis fun and teach the importance of good sportsmanship.
“If I do all that,” he said, “in my mind I will have been a successful coach regardless of what our record is.”