With only two losses during the season, one against Stratford Academy and one against McCallie, the boys varsity tennis team entered the state playoffs as the number-one seeds, boasting one of the best records that the Westminster varsity girls and boys tennis teams have ever had.
“We have a really good team,” said junior Noah Turbes. “I really like the guys on our team, and we really have a great bond and chemistry. We are led by great players in singles with freshmen Charlie and Jack Burdell and sophomore Evan Le. Our doubles teams are great too. They bring energy to every match.”
A team of great players is impressive, but coaches make great players into great teams. There is no exception with the NetCats. Varsity head coach Ralph Geeza credits the team’s success for his unique approach to practices.
“Because so many of our players do drills outside of school, we focus our team practice on doubles tactics and match play,” said Geeza. “When we can get a lot of players out at practice, we play competitive sets and work on a lot of doubles.
Players also attribute the success of their season to the amount of work they put into each of their practices. The team has practice five days a week for almost two hours a day. Their rigorous practice schedule allows them to not only be prepared physically for the matches but also mentally for any challenges they may run into during the match.
“Our practices incorporate team spirit from our spirit leader James Carabillo,” said freshman Charlie Burdell. “On top of this, we also try to have some fun playing mixed doubles to ease tension going into matches. The team comradery of our players really allows for great practices.”
Although sophomore James Carabillo does not play frequently, he is perhaps the biggest supporter of the team as he cheers on the team when playing. He has formed a special bond with the team.
“I wouldn’t call myself a leader quite yet, but I say I am someone who anybody could go to in order to cool off or just for them to get hyped before their match,” said Carabillo. “I feel like I am really able to motivate the players when I am on or off court and help the team get where they are.”
Going into each match, each player on the team has had a different focus and strategy.
“Coach Geeza always motivates us by saying we only have one match left, “said Turbes “He means we should only focus on the match we are playing and not worry about future matches. I use this to focus on our current match. I also talk to my doubles partner throughout our matches in order to stay calm and help with my shot selection.”
For other players going into state, the preparation looks very different. Tennis is a mental game as much as it is a physical one.
“For me, consistent practice makes me a better player,” said sophomore Evan Le. “I always try to attend practice, as I know perfect practice makes me the best version of myself. I always stretch and stay patient in order to get the most out of our practices.”
Each player’s determination culminated on May 8 at the state final in Rome, Georgia. With outstanding coaches and great players, both the girls and boys varsity tennis teams ended their seasons with state championships.