Ace to State: Boys Tennis 2017

Ace+to+State%3A+Boys+Tennis+2017

Lucy Dozier

Huffing and puffing, the boys tennis team slugs down the length of the court. Already exhausted from six sprints of grape vines, they begin to lose motivation. Some boys bend down and pretend to tie their shoes in an effort to regain their breath, while others suddenly come down with a case of “asthma” and stop the drill before an attack comes on. 

Running through his exhaustion is junior Billy Louiselle, who is too determined for breaks. Too focused to feel the harsh burning in his lungs.  

Louiselle set a new goal for his junior year on the team and it was one he believed was practical: getting six team members to State.  

Last year, Louiselle was one of only of two members from East to compete in State and placed 10th overall. Returning to the team for his third year, Louiselle set new personal goals to place higher, along with his determination for the team as a whole to be successful. 

“A lot of the guys who have potential to make it to State this year are sophomores and underclassmen,” Louiselle said. “But I completely trust their ability and dedication to get us there.”

When Andrew Gibbs was the assistant coach the year before, he observed the practice dynamic and had an idea of the things he wanted to change when he took over as head coach the next year. Gibbs introduced new drills which focused more on footwork and agility, giving the team not only the athletic ability, but the confidence that they could reach their goals. 

“I wanted to keep everything intentional,” Gibbs said. “That was my word for the year: intention.”

Gibbs stressed to the team that they were athletes and should condition like athletes. Boys who had spent the entire practices wandering around the court the previous year found a new passion to be successful in the sport.

 Louiselle had been playing tennis since he was three years old and already possessed a productive work ethic in the sport. Now, his teammates were beginning to catch on as well. Each methodical practice brought the team closer and closer to Louiselle’s goal. 

The team took this new attitude presented by Gibbs and ran with it. Showing up on time and running drills with all of their effort, the team aimed for a State championship in a way they hadn’t before. Though more difficult, the intense practices inspired them and kept them focused on the end result.

“I think this year I’ve gotten better physically” Sophomore and potential State qualifier, Jacob Tilton said. “Along with being a better player in general I also just feel much more mentally prepared this year.”

The team had many matches and tournaments to prepare for State and made sure to take them seriously in order to play their hardest when it was time for regionals. They treated each match as if it were their state qualifier. 

They had the tools they needed to see their names on the State bracket. All that was left was to execute their plan.  

`Although the exhausting drills at times seemed like too much, the team now understood it was a necessary part of the process of taking Louiselle’s goals and turning them into a reality.