Playing as a team has advantages for tennis players

Known mostly as an individual sport, team champions really enjoy their success together.

Shiva Narayanan moved to Camas from India just prior to the start of the school year, the day of tryouts for boys tennis.

“After two or three days, it just felt like family,” Narayanan said. “I’m new to the team but they’ve become really close friends.”

Many might think of high school tennis as an individual sport.

But the players who win league and/or district titles are thrilled to be part of those teams.

The Mountain View Thunder won league and district titles this fall. Tennis is more than just an individual sport. Photo courtesy Nate Frost

Union won the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title in boys tennis this fall, but Camas took the district title.

In the 3A GSHL, Mountain View won league and district titles. Same with Columbia River in the 2A GSHL.

Today, the 4A and 3A tennis players are in bi-district play, hoping to qualify for state next spring. Now, it is about individual play, and those points go toward team success.

Make no mistake, though, the players love the team aspect of high school tennis. 

“In club tennis, you don’t ever get to do it,” said Akash Prasad of Camas, who won the district singles title last week. “It’s a different spirit. You’ve got your team rallying around you. It’s a different atmosphere, but definitely a fun one.” 

Camas coach Jonathan Burton said it can be a challenge to get individual players to buy-in to the group mentality. But usually, it does not take too long.

The Camas Papermakers won the Class 4A District 4 team title. At Camas, the players say they feel like family. Certainly not just an individual sport. Photo courtesy Rory Oster
The Camas Papermakers won the Class 4A District 4 team title. At Camas, the players say they feel like family. Certainly not just an individual sport. Photo courtesy Rory Oster

The way the sport is set up, at least for league matches, does help. League matches are determined by the number of matches won. But if there is a 3-3 tie, it goes to sets won, and then, points won. 

Burton said he loves being able to tell a player who might have lost his match that the set he won actually earned the team a victory.

At Mountain View, coach Nick Frost said a league title is more meaningful to him than a district title, just because of the team format.

At district, he said, a coach has to put players into a bracket that best suits the player’s potential to advance. In league, he might split up the doubles team to make two quality singles players, for example.

League or post-season play, the players enjoy playing for more than themselves.

“It’s mostly for the team,” said Mountain View’s Vincent Hsu, who teamed up with James Bertheau to win the district doubles title. “I like the team aspect. I tend to be selfless. I like to help others a lot.”

Helping others either by scoring or supporting.

“You can’t just play your match and go home,”  Bertheau said. “You have to stay and cheer for your team. If I’m being cheered for, I play better.”

The Thunder and Papermakers do a lot of things together off the court. Team dinners are big at Camas. At Mountain View, the Thunder tennis players have run the concession stand at football games a couple times this fall.

“I was really cold,” Bertheau said with a laugh.

“But it was nice to hang out together and socialize more,” Hsu added.

Lu Abuizzah, a junior, said every year gets better with the team.

“It’s a great experience to represent Mountain View,” he said.

Only a handful of individuals from each team will make it to state. But no matter what happens going forward, the team titles at league or district levels will remain in the record books.

Those championships are won together.

“It means a lot when you’re playing and they’re always there to support you,” Narayanan said. “It’s really fun to travel with them and make some memories.”

Making friends through team tennis.

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