For some reason, fond memories of high school teams remain more visceral than others. On that tin can of a bus, the spectrum of talent was stunning. My brother Chris and I would go on to play on the world’s biggest stages, including Wimbledon and the US Open. Yet, I never loved the game more or fought harder than when my other brother Bill, “Goober” Callaghan, Timmer “the Boomer” Tunstall, and others competed as a unit. Coach Lee Kenworthy, (we called him Ken Leeworthy) did not know much about tennis, but he had the judgment and energy to guide a bunch of tennis nuts with enthusiasm and caring. Something was very right with that team, and we have all kept tennis as part of our lives since those days. Here are a few thoughts I took away from those years on the Cathedral High team. 1. Even though I was developing into one of the best juniors in the nation (and playing much weaker player most of the time), I learned a great deal about the game, including how to play in a disciplined way, and how to win matches against people I was “supposed to beat.” 2. The wind, cold, and below-average courts taught me to deal with the conditions. 3. Every match at every spot counted. Regardless of skill level, when it came to the team score, we were all equals. 4. I was always thankful that Coach allowed my brother and me to practice apart from the team a few times a week, as long as we set a good example at team practices and played every match. 5. Coach knew that we wanted to be pushed. Being lazy was boring and we respected his desire to push us. 6. Being supported by a teammate after a loss makes a deep impression. 7. Tennis on a team is a gas. I would love to hear from others about their own favorite memories of high school tennis.Get ready High School Tennis – UTR is coming
Part “woodie” station wagon, part milk truck, part lunar landing module—the spartan, green, pudgy bus that delivered us from Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts to our tennis matches made me feel giddy. All eight of us players would shuffle on board, trying to maintain a scuffed-up high-school cool that belied our excitement. With just two racquets (sometimes only one) apiece, and the ancient-but-reliable Mr. Weiss at the wheel, we put-putted to our matches pretending it was spring, despite the chilly gusts of April afternoons in Massachusetts. While most current high school players will not know what a woodie, a milk truck, or a lunar landing are, like me, they will feel the same giddiness that accompanies playing tennis on a team. Whether competing in the Olympics, for the Davis Cup, in college or in high school, having teammates animates a love for our game unrivaled by individual play at any level, including even Wimbledon—in my experience, at least. Early in the season, the bus, always warmed in advance by Mr. Weiss, provided welcome relief from picking up fur-less balls that were always blown into one corner of the unadorned courts at Blunt Park. (An apt name that time of the year.) By the end of May, hot days made the bus stinky hot, but we were so buoyed by adventure that opening the windows was not a bad form of air conditioning. After a good match, win or lose, Mr. Weiss would let us scamper—quite against school rules—into the Cumberland Farms convenience store to grab some junk food.