Grunts, loud exhales, squeaking shoes, and loud pops fill the air. For some, these sounds don’t trigger any image in your mind. For others they are the sounds of tennis.
The Williamsville East tennis boys have dominated their league for a very long time. It is believed that most of the players on the team are more developed in their skills at that specific level. First singles player and captain Jason Berkun said, “Last year we went 11-1 for the team record. We could have gone 12-0, but it didn’t work out and we tied for the division championship.”
Despite the fact that the members of this team are more skilled compared to other players in the league, the players–from the top-down–view tennis as a leisure activity and don’t get caught up in the competition. It’s this pure love of the sport that likely drives the teams success.
In particular, teammate and senior Zach Karlsen said, “It’s nice to be able to play tennis with your friends after a long day of school.” Therefore, it is clear that many of the players are on the team to let off some steam and be able to bond with their teammates.
In terms of roster turnover, the team will be losing five seniors this year who are all on the starting line up. The starting line up consists of three singles players and four doubles players.
Jason Berkun, who has held the first singles position for his junior and senior years has been on the team for five years now. He is also one of the three who will be graduating this year, so the team may be taking a small hit after his departure. After all, Berkun successfully made it to states last year with freshman doubles partner, Jerry Xiao.
Xiao will most likely replace Berkun next year. “Both of us are singles players, so it was a bit harder to move over into doubles when we played on our road to states, but for the most part we made a good team. Jerry has improved a lot since last year,” said Jason.
Two of the other seniors, Morris Lee and Aditiya Nair will consequently be leaving their first doubles position open for any exhibition players to potentially move up the ladder. Exhibition players are those who are not featured on the starting line up, but still play for the team. Their matches don’t count toward school records in the league, but these players are still vital if a starter is injured or can’t play their match for any other reason.
Lee said, “Everyone’s fun to play with on the team,” and he also noted that he will miss playing doubles with Nair once they both graduate.
“I believe that Jason and Jerry can make it to states again this year,” said Lee.
Due to poor weather this spring season, the boys are having all ten of their matches within the span of three weeks. The rest of the school year is left with those on the team that will be making their way to ECIC’s and after that, sectionals and states.
The team enjoys having fun beyond the court as well. One of their favorite haunts is Wendy’s, where they enjoy burgers and good times. Karlsen says he will always remember the fun times he has shared with his teammates there and will miss this experience dearly. Another senior Nidhish Gokhale agreed completely with Karlsen, and he said that, “Wendy’s is the glue that holds our team together. It is such a good time especially on our way back from long road trips to places like Hamburg.”
“Playing tennis this year is fun because it’s the last sports season of my high school years,” reflected Shashi Shah.
The boys tennis team has a long track record of success, and clearly a strong tradition of comoradary. They are looking to return to a 12-0 record and be reigning division champs. However you put it, the ball is in their court this season.