Tennis: Depth proved key for Kentridge’s perfect season

This year, the recipe for success for the Kentridge tennis team was a simple one: Combine a strong core of talented players in a program with a long-standing tradition of excellence and spice it up with a heaping helping of team unity and spirit – and voilá, an SPSL North team title and a perfect 16-0 season record.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, October 24, 2008 11:21am
  • Sports
Vineeth Omkaram has been one of the many key contributors to Kentridge’s unbeaten South Puget Sound League North Division record this fall.

Vineeth Omkaram has been one of the many key contributors to Kentridge’s unbeaten South Puget Sound League North Division record this fall.

This year, the recipe for success for the Kentridge tennis team was a simple one: Combine a strong core of talented players in a program with a long-standing tradition of excellence and spice it up with a heaping helping of team unity and spirit – and voilá, an SPSL North team title and a perfect 16-0 season record.

“I actually expected to do well,” coach Bob Armstrong said. “We lost three key players to graduation, but I knew that we had a real strong core of players.”

Coming in, Armstrong said he expected big things from his No. 1 singles player, junior Matt Overland, who finished the season with a 9-2 record.

Armstrong added that he also felt confident about his No. 1 doubles team of juniors Paul Yi and Vineeth Omkaram, who wound up undefeated at 11-0.

Even his No. 2 doubles team of junior Donald Hall and freshman Vincent Li distinguished themselves with an 8-0 record.

But for Kentridge this year, the real difference has been the depth of the roster.

“I think the key in tennis is that it always seems to come down to No. 2 singles and No. 3 doubles,” Armstrong said. “You have your marquee players, but it always seems to come down to the guys further down the list.”

For the Chargers, that translated into big years from junior Garrett Ballou at No. 2 singles and Henry Ly and Vishaal Diwan at No. 3 doubles.

“They really came through for us, as did Garrett Ballou at No. 2 singles,” Armstrong said.

Ballou, who is the team captain, finished the season 12-0 and Ly and Diwan finished 8-0.

“We just had some really good combos and players this year, some kids that just played well together,” Armstrong said.

That gave Kentridge the luxury of not having to shuffle their lineup looking for advantageous matchups against most of the teams in the league.

“The only time we moved our lineups was against Jefferson and Kentwood,” Armstrong said. “To ensure the team win.”

In addition to all the talent, Armstrong said that this year’s team bonded well together, creating a team atmosphere that helped nurture some of the younger players.

“We do a lot of stuff outside the regular practices,” Armstrong said. “At the start of the year, we have a pancake breakfast and a father and son, or any other relative, tournament. We had a pickle ball tourney at Garrett Ballou’s court.

“It’s not big things, but it means something to the team. It’s these things that bring the team together. It’s hard with an individual sport like tennis, but we work hard at this kind of stuff.”

In addition to being the team’s captain, which involves a lot of work helping to run practices and managing strategy and lineups at matches, Ballou said it’s his job to help foster the team spirit.

“We had a lot of juniors this year, so I knew that we’d be young,” he said. “But most of us are the same age and have played club (tennis) together (at the Boeing indoor court). We try to do non-tennis-related things. A lot of times after a match we’ll go to Dairy Queen. We just try to do team bonding off the court.”

Ballou is “kind of the heart and soul of the team as their captain,” Armstrong added.

This past week, the Chargers competed in the SPSL North sub-district tournament, with results unavailable at press time.

“I think we’ll do extremely well,” Armstrong said before the tourney. “Last year we won it. I’m hoping to get four entries to qualify for the district tourney this spring.”

Shawn Allen Skager can be reached at 253-833-0218 ext. 5054 or sskager@auburn-reporter.com.


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