The year before Spencer Terris (’10) was a freshman, “the uniform [of the boys varsity tennis team] consisted of tie-dyed shirts and jean shorts.” It was a good metaphor for the way that Urban’s tennis team was perceived: It was not serious, not victorious, and not respected.
Fast-forward four years. Captains David Werboff (’10), Rudy Henriquez (’10) and Terris have brought the team full circle. “David, Rudy and I have worked hard to make this team competitive,” said Terris, and their effort is obvious.
Last year, the team beat University in a heated semifinal match, and made it to the finals where they lost to Marin Academy. “When we beat (University) in the semifinals last year, it was the best I had ever felt after a win,” said Terris. “They had beat us twice in the regular season, but we never gave up the hope we could upset them in the playoffs, and we did.” On April 16, the team will battle Uni again.
Henriquez described the rush of victory as “the greatest feeling I have had at Urban.” He added, “I honestly can’t put that magic we had last year into words.”
Along with their rising success, the team is also going through other significant changes as well. This year, Jason Pino joined the squad as the new head coach. Pino has worked at Urban for three years as the girls’ coach, but this is his first time with the Urban varsity boys.
Pino said, “the challenges are definitely getting trust amongst the students to believe in what you’re trying to teach them.” Building this trust is essential because tennis is “a mental game as much as a physical game.”
Pino’s coaching style is different than that of the coaches of past years. Urban Athetic Director Greg Angilly said, “Jason’s lineup is different, and bumps in the road are getting adjusted”. The changing lineup is part of Pino’s overall goal to change the strategy of how they play. “Knowledge of strategy on the court is probably where there’s going to be the most growth amongst our players on the team,” said Pino.
One of the mental strategies Pino stresses to the players is that, “every point has the ability to change the match.” And if the team falls short, Pino says, “I always encourage them to take a loss as a lesson.”
Though the team has been doing well, Pino claims, “the best moment of the season is yet to come.” They don’t have a good fan base, so go to one of their games and witness the team, that Angilly describes as, “quite a few characters…[who] don’t lack personality.” They have progressed a lot from the tie-dye days and are growing game by game.
“You may think that tennis is a boring sport but there is nothing more exiting than slamming an overhead (into an opponent). Come out!” said Ian Wallace (’12).