Tennis wraps up a successful season

Kristen Smith

     With the end of school right around the corner, most sports teams are starting to wrap up their seasons. The Cedar Park tennis team just recently played their last tournament of the year, capping off a terrific season. The team was able to become more mature and  grow in strength over the course of their 2009-2010 season.

     This season, they had one major goal in mind: make it past the district level and move on to regionals. Last year, the entire team did not advance into the district round, but was able to send a handful of strong individual players.  In order to make it as a team, members rallied together and put forth a huge effort, making sure they did everything in their power to accomplish the objective.

     “One of our main goals this year was to make it to district as a team, and also make it to regionals,” Brody Rodriguez, senior said.

     The team remained focused and played every match with heart and intensity. Despite these efforts, they did not win district. The individuals who made it to the district made a strong showing and finished in a respectable third place. Throughout the season, the team had some exciting finishes at Tournaments across the state and made memories they will forever cherish.

     “We all played really well at the Kehmah Boardwalk Tournament, it was a big accomplishment because we did better this year than we did last year at the same tournament.” Rodriguez said.

     This year the team acquired some new strengths that helped them win many matches. The team’s chemistry has been extremely sturdy, and has proven to be a key factor in the team’s successes.

     “The team this year is all very close. We have really strong chemistry and we motivate each other to do well.” Rodriguez said.

     Chemistry within the team is indeed great, but the driving force behind the team’s strong season was the experience and skill of Coach Randy Ballenger. The team believes Coach Ballenger’s leadership has made a definite difference in their performance. By applauding the positives and correcting the weaknesses of the team, Coach Ballenger helped direct needed improvements and ultimately guided the team to its high finish.

     “Coach Ballenger is a great coach.” Megan White, senior, said.  “He’s always there for us on and off the courts. He always motivates us to do our best and, as he puts it, ‘pull out that W.’ He motivates us with simple verbal encouragement. He also likes to have us hit one hundred balls in a row from the baseline before we can leave practice; not our favorite drill.”

     Another way the team members motivate themselves is by watching how the professionals compete. Players like Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Andy Roddick are not only good motivators for the team but are role models too. Their successes on the court make the team want to do well in hopes of maybe becoming like them.

     “Most of us follow the pro circuit pretty extensively, especially during the prime tournament season,” White said. “We all favor Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters.”

     Much like pro players, Cedar Park faces many tough opponents in each of their matches. Going into this year’s season, Lake Travis, Westlake and Austin High presented a front of hefty competition. The strong records of other schools in the district might cause intimidation for other schools, but the Cedar Park faced these opponents boldly.

     “We went into those matches thinking we weren’t going to lose,” Rodriguez said. “We played our hearts out and just played to win.”

     Cedar Park tennis came a long way this year and will undoubtedly miss their senior leaders. The expectations for the 2010-2011 year will be high, as the team looks to exceed the record from this year.