Short on experience but long on enthusiasm, seven EDSS students put together a stronger-than-expected showing at last week’s Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association junior tennis competition.
Despite being a primarily novice team, the students exhibited success against their more experienced competitors.
Coach Mark Carlin said he was extremely proud to see the success his junior team found in its introductory tournament.
The tournament, a double knockout format, guaranteed teams to play two matches before facing elimination from the tournament.
Ryan Belanger made it to the quarter-finals in the boys’ singles on three match wins before he bowed out. Kieffer Beard and Zac Pickard, who competed in boys’ doubles won one match at the tournament, and Sheldon Nedeljkovich and Taya Beacom, the mixed team, won one match. The results saw EDSS place twelfth out of 14 in the county.
Carlin said the mixed experience on the team provided a great platform to get the students involved in the sport.
“The experienced players had a chance to bring the beginners along, so that is what we focused on at our practices was bringing up the level of the beginners,” said Carlin. “Things have gone very well, better than I planned. I’m pleased with how the season has gone.”
Kaitlyn Read, a rugby player at EDSS, was a first-time competitor in the junior tennis league.
“I’ve been playing for about two weeks, they said they needed girls at school so we volunteered and now we are here,” said Read. “Today we haven’t done too bad, surprisingly.”
The beginner competed alongside teammate Brianna Fleming in the junior doubles competition. Despite the duo not coming away from the tournament with a win, Read was happy to be there.
The team has practiced for only four weeks leading up to the tournament, the tennis season being rather short compared to other secondary school sports.
In that span, Carlin credits their avid use of the community tennis courts in Elmira to the quick team development.
“This year it was such a short season, it was only about four weeks long, so we had four weeks to prepare. We spent really all of that time practicing, and we are lucky in Elmira because we had the community courts to use. We pay a membership for the school at those courts, other schools don’t have access to courts as easily as we do, so it has been great for our program,” he said.
Carlin, who also coaches the senior team in the fall, says he is happy to introduce and share his love for tennis with the students.
“It’s one of my passions. It’s what I do. I love showing the kids the game, because it’s a game you can play for life, for sure,” he said. “You know it’s not something like rugby or football where you’re pretty much out of it when you’re an adult. With this, you can pretty much play until you’re 80.”
The seven students will be moving up to senior in the fall.