Spartans Tennis Gets A Serving Of ChangeJun 13, 2016 10:24AM ● By Sarah Almond
The Murray High School 2016 boys tennis team poses for a group photo. With 24 players on the roster this year, the Spartans have more than twice participants than years past. Photo courtesy of Andrea Perschon.
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
For the Murray Spartans boy’s tennis team, the 2016 season was monumentally different than any past season the players could remember. Aside from having a new head coach, Andrea Perschon, the group grew immensely in size.
Last year, just 10 players made up the Murray High School boys tennis team. This year, that number doubled, giving the Spartans a solid 24-member team.
“This has allowed us to have a varsity and JV team without having to duplicate like they did last year,” Perschon said.
Though the Spartans did hold tryouts at the end of February, Perschon elected not to cut any players in order to progressively grow the team. Instead, Perschon, along with assistant coach Jenni Matthews, spent the three-day-long tryout period evaluating the players.
“Rather than cut anyone, we had evaluation forms,” Perschon said. “So we spent three days watching and evaluating the boys with no instruction just to see where we were at with the players. We then took the numbers from the evaluations and made a ladder, which helped us organize the team’s skills.”
Before Perschon took on the head coach position at the beginning of the boy’s 2016 season, the Spartans’ team lacked structure and guidance.
“Now we have a computerized software they helps us gauge progress,” Perschon said. “We give the boys challenges and they know who is above them on the ‘ladder’ so they know who they have to go after, and they know where they stand.”
This ladder system has not only helped bring competitive structure to the team, but it has also been a useful method for determining which players will play on either the varsity or JV team for upcoming matches. Perschon and Matthews were diligent about revisiting this ladder throughout the season, reevaluating players, and adjusting the teams as skills progressed.
“I think my style of teaching these kids is unique,” Perschon said. “I teach them the concept in how it applies to the match. So some of these boys have never played tennis before, but yet we still did very well this year.”
Last year the Spartans didn’t win a single set, let alone a match or team win.
“To go from that to making team wins and match wins has been really, really great,” Perschon said. “They improved so rapidly. And because they hadn’t been coached, they really soaked it up. They were very teachable and they listened.”
Perschon explains that while her concept going into the boy’s season was to simply get them ready to compete against more challenging teams, she didn’t realize how fast the team would excell.
“I wanted a good showing our first year, you know?” Perschon said. “But these boys far exceeded my expectations.”
For Perschon, the experience she’s gained in just her first year of coaching at Murray has been a lifetime highlight.
“This is probably the most gratifying job I’ve ever had,” said Perschon, “I’ve had several different jobs over the years. Formally, I was a private secretary for CEOs, international presidents and state officials before retiring in 2000 to be a mom. But this is the most gratifying job because it’s so fun to see these player take what I’m coaching them and be successful with it. You know, when they give in, and I see it click, it’s just unbelievably gratifying.”
Getting the players to conceptualize the sport and establish a deep love for tennis was one of Perschon’s main goals when taking on the position as head coach. And to hear her talk, this goal has been reached.
“[Andrea] is an amazing coach,” senior Michael Pond. “I played with her over the summer and I can guarantee my skills and game have doubled. She’s been coaching tennis for so many years and she plays tennis really competitively, and she is a really great player, and she will nit-pick every single little detail of your game and fix it. And that alone helps a ton.”
Though the Spartans 2016 season has officially ended, Perschon and returning players are already looking forward to next year and the progress that even more hard work will bring.