The Ridgefield High School’s boys tennis team finished its season in fifth place with a large host of new players.
Coach Andrea Kropp hopes the team can build upon the foundation they created to keep their momentum going next year.
“We had a solid season,” Kropp said. “This year was definitely a rebuilding year for us. We had eight seniors graduate and leave the program last year and they were all varsity players, so with nine kids playing varsity and eight of them leaving, it created a lot of opportunities for new players.”
This year, the team featured an “excellent turnout” for new freshmen and juniors. The team featured 13 returning players and 13 new players, Kropp said.
“We wound up finishing fifth out of seven schools in (the) Greater St. Helens League, but I was really happy with the freshmen and the sophomores and a lot of the new players who joined just this year, and how much they grew in one season,” she said.
Last year, Kropp said the team secured second place and tied for the first place spot the year before.
“The ability for someone to come in as a first-year player, make the varsity team and win against some of the schools in our league, that’s a huge accomplishment because most of the varsity teams are all returning players, so for us to have some new players be able to step into those roles and win was really remarkable for them,” Kropp said.
She highlighted freshman Brody Wolski, who was new to tennis but participated in other sports.
“He is such an incredibly hard worker and amazing student of the game and super coachable. Brody was one of the bright spots in terms of new players that contributed to our varsity success,” Kropp said. “He came in as a freshman, had never played tennis before, really committed himself to learning, and just put in so many extra hours.”
Kropp said Wolski would often stay to practice by himself after practice concluded and dedicated some of his weekends to improve as well.
As for junior Brady Winter, Kropp said he played football for two years before he started to attend optional practices for the tennis team during the summer months.
“He has a twin sister who was taunting him that he would never make the varsity team his first year, but not only did he make the varsity team, he played first doubles for us and was voted second team all-league at the end of the season,” Kropp said. “Brady is a really serious player and just super, super tactical.”
Next season, Kropp said she will focus on getting the kids to fall in love with the sport.
She added, “If they fall in love with it and we only have a 10-week season, if they love it, they’ll go practice on their own for the other 42 weeks, and there’s really no substitute for that in terms of getting ready for next season.”
She said that approach worked this season. Many of the players told her they would continue to practice indoors, take private lessons and join other tennis club programs in the area.
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