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Racket sports / By Charlie Garfinkel: Coaches offer insights on high school tennis

Four outstanding high school tennis coaches were queried on the following aspects of high school tennis:

• How do you feel about players on your tennis team playing other sports during the school tennis season?

• What is your reaction if your tennis players take private or group tennis lessons from teaching pros during the season?

• During the offseason, do you have any problems with your tennis players playing other sports?”

The coaches and their responses follow.

Dick Phillips: former boys and girls coach at Willamsville South: “I didn’t have a problem with players playing other sports during the tennis season as long as it didn’t interfere with practice or team matches. One season, four or five of my players were playing soccer in a night league two times a week. They would show up the next day for practice or a match and were really fatigued. I knew that they were tired and I would ask them if they wanted to play the match that day. I knew that they would play and their results were pretty good. However, if they happened to lose the match, I would tell them to not use the excuse that they had played soccer the night before.

“I also had no problem with them playing soccer, basketball, or other sports in the offseason. I felt they were competing in team sports that would continue to teach them good sportsmanship, keep them in top shape and would be still playing in a team environment.

“As far as working with tennis pros outside of school during the tennis season, I didn’t have a problem with that at all. As long as it didn’t conflict with our practices and team matches I felt they would benefit greatly by working with the top pros in the area at Miller Tennis Center and Village Glen as the pros had the expertise and knowledge to make my players even more proficient than they were. “

Sandy Trampert, girls’ coach at Orchard Park: “I also coach girl’s lacrosse at Orchard Park and feel that both sports greatly help each other with the movement, conditioning, and team spirit If they wanted to play other sports during the tennis season after practice or on the weekend I wouldn’t have a problem with that. However, I would encourage them to play with less intensity and just for fun.

“Fortunately, I have rarely had problems with my girls with conflicting other sports. Before each season I set the parameters that the girls must follow and let the parents know what my expectations are. If some players take lessons after practice or on the weekend I don’t have any problems with that. I would be foolish to not take advantage of the great indoor facilities and pros who are available to our team.

“I am also a strong proponent of playing other varsity sports during the year. It keeps the girls fresh and they look forward to the change. When my girls play tennis or lacrosse I also am a strong advocate of cross training. We work on agility, explosive power, and general drills for both sports, that helps to keep the girls in top physical shape.”

Dave Shambach, boys’ coach at Lockport: “Regardless of what sport you are coaching you have to be flexible as far as practice and matches. Members of the team must be available for practices and matches unless there are some unforeseen circumstances.

“If they do other activities that don’t conflict with practices or matches, I don’t have a problem with that.

“I really appreciate some of the local pros who work with my students as they are a great help to them both mentally and physically. I also encourage my team members to play other team sports in different seasons to keep them in in shape and motivated for the upcoming season.”

Steve Ginsburg: Former Boy’s Tennis Coach at Sweet Home High School: “Some of these questions are a bit tricky,” Ginsburg said. “ If you had a student who is an excellent soccer player with a chance to win a scholarship and is also a fine tennis player, there may be some conflicts.” For instance if the aforementioned boy has a soccer practice the same day as we have tennis practice his parents and he have to make a choice. if he elects to go to soccer practice instead of tennis there is no way that he will be playing in the match the next day, regardless of how good he is. In another instance, one of my players had a tennis lesson on a Friday afternoon, the same day as one of our matches. He had to change his lesson to another day or after one of our practice or matches. Fortunately, our parents knew what our rules and regulations were and we rarely had any problems. I was also a strong believer in having our better kids help the players who weren’t quite as talented as they were. When you have over 20 kids on the squad the help was greatly appreciated by both the kids and their parents. In addition, this greatly helped the team spirit and made our team better. Some coaches don’t like to reach out to different pros in the area. They felt that it took away from their stature. I never felt that way. There were so many really good teaching pros in our area that I would have been foolish not to use them as resources. As for the off season I feel that the kids should do their homework. They should take drill clinics or teach tennis at a public park or club if they are capable of doing so. As for elite players they should continue to play as much as possible during the summer,take lessons, and play tournaments if they have the ability.. During the off season (tennis) when school is in session students should play other team sports as this will complement their tennis proficiency both mentally and physically.

Amy Borden, girls’ coach at Nicholsarold Schnitzer: Former Boys and Girls Tennis Coach at Williamsvile East and Williamsville South: “I never really had a problem with team members playing other sports while playing tennis. As long as they showed up for practice and the matches they could do whatever they wanted to after practice or on the weekends. I was fortunate to have many great players while I was coaching at both schools.. On the few occasions that a player had to miss a match our teams were still competitive. Many of our players also took lessons at the local clubs from the many excellent pros and that was a big help for our team. As for off season sports I always felt that cross country, basketball, and soccer were excellent team sports. They continued the team aspect, kept the kids in wonderful shape, and greatly helped them to be ready for the upcoming tennis season.

: “During tennis season three girls on the team also played hockey and sometimes practices and matches conflicted. We tried to adjust to both schedules as well as we can.

“Unfortunately, the scheduling sometimes affects us when we play matches and we do the best that we can without some of our top players.

“As far as my girls taking tennis lessons from other pros in the area, I don’t have a problem with that as the lessons will definitely make my team better. However, I do stress to my girls not to over train

“I am also a firm believer in playing different sports in the offseason. It is a great way for team members to work and develop other muscle groups. I also stress that they should try to play tennis occasionally indoors to stay in reasonable tennis shape for the coming season.”

Terry McMahon, boys’ coach at Orchard Park: “According to our rules any player on my team must show up for all practices and team matches. Parents are made aware of the rules and all players must abide by them.

“If I have an elite player who is planning on playing tournaments locally and out of town almost every weekend during the tennis season, they have to make a decision. If they definitely are going to miss some matches or practices I wish them the best in their tournament endeavors. However, they definitely will not be playing on the Orchard Park tennis team.

“An analogy would be was when I was playing semi-pro football. I would never even think about missing practice or playing another sport on a weekend which would force me to miss the practice or a football game. I am also a firm believer of conditioning and calisthenics at each team practice.

“As far as playing other sports during tennis season, I feel the same way as I do about taking lessons. It is okay as long as it doesn’t conflict with my program. However, if I feel that any of my team members is conspicuously tired from practicing or playing in two venues in one day he will not play in the match the next day.

“From my own experiences I feel that playing other sports during the tennis offseason is fine. I feel that it gives the players a mental freshness and keeps them in great shape. When the tennis season starts again they are eager to play.”