Tennis team incorporates both individualism and teamwork back on the court


Hannah Lam

Sofia Gosain (11) serves the ball as she warms up for practice. As the team prepares for matches, players gather twice a week at Wolbrecht Tennis Center.

The radar screen flashes red — 80, then 85, then 90 miles per hour. But no cars are speeding, no police cars are chasing, only Sofia Gosain (11) pounding her serve over and over again. 

This season, the Spartan tennis team boasts a new coach leading the 19 new and returning players. 

“Everyone is really encouraging and enthusiastic about this year, so I’m obviously excited as well,” Krithika Kameshwaran (10) said. “I like that we have a variety of grades on the team to see different players.”

Tennis, one of the most popular individual sports, allows players to master agility, coordination and strength while also building mental toughness and confidence. Alone on the court, a player plays for themself, and the outcome affects only them.

“Tennis is an individual sport because, in the end, it’s you against the opponent,” Kameshwaran said. “Yes, doubles is there, but the angle the ball goes depends on your racquet face. Where you run determines how strong your shot will go.”

Although tennis may be considered an individual sport, camaraderie is still crucial in building a strong team and a player’s self-esteem. Whether teammates are playing doubles and yelling, ‘I got it,’ or encouraging each other during practice, tennis is dependent on the team dynamic.

“From tennis and playing at White Station, I’ve learned how to become a team player,” Gosain. “Since tennis can be individual at times, I really appreciate the team aspect of playing for the school. It’s taught me how to work well with others and be more patient and trusting with others.”

Thousands of hours of practice, grueling workouts and deliberate study are needed to become a professional in any field, and these players have devoted the time and effort to master their game.

“I usually practice three to four times a week,” Chas Burbank (11) said. “At practice, not only do we play, but we also do conditioning, since tennis can be an intense full-body workout.”

To know where to aim the ball, how hard to hit it or how to attack an opponent’s weakness, tennis involves technical, physical and mental training. 

“Like any other sport, tennis is not just strength and endurance,” Burbank said. “It also involves technique and strategy, so players have to focus on that aspect of the game as well as the physical. Something I think that helps me improve is watching others and implementing different strategies in my own playing style.”

Many on the team have been playing for over a decade, developing their skills through patience, perseverance and practice. Even throughout a season, players find improvement as they challenge themselves and perform better with each game.

“Although there is the very literal definition of success — when I win a match or a tournament — I think the feeling of reward also comes from the small internal victories,” Gosain said. “I play a lot of people from schools I have in the past years, so maybe I’ll play someone I lost to in the past, and maybe I lose to them again, but maybe it was a closer match. I think that’s somewhat of an internal victory, something I’m able to recognize and be proud of myself for.”

On average, tennis players lose more games than in any other sport because many compete in tournaments year-round. Regardless, even the greatest champions like Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal always walk back on the court with a new inner confidence and fortitude, and it is no different for the Spartan team.

“Throughout my life, tennis has been a constant,” Kameshwaran said. “It’s always something I can come back to and excel in if I practice hard enough. I always appreciate coming back to the court and hitting some when I’m not feeling too good.”