From the field: Boys’ tennis

In the scorching heat, the tennis team and I run liners during the beginning of the practice as a warm up. Photo by Grace He.

In the scorching heat, the tennis team and I run liners during the beginning of the practice as a warm up. Photo by Grace He.

While watching a tennis match, most onlookers may seem to think it’s an easy sport: a total of two (or four) players hit a ball to the other side of the court to their opponent and when it hits the ground, that player scores. But while practicing with Homestead’s boys’ varsity tennis team, I learned that there are many small technicalities that can determine one’s success at hitting the ball correctly, and even one’s chances of winning a match.

Like any sports practice, the team and I started out by running a few laps and liners through the courts. Then we continued with various stretches such as the flamingo and the “model” pose, which mostly focused on our legs and lower body.

With a racket finally in hand, I attempted some basic rallying with one of the varsity players on the team, senior Shovik Banik. As a beginner with little experience, I struggled with hitting the ball directly to Banik and with gripping the racket correctly. However, I still enjoyed being able to spend the majority of the session practicing with another player hands-on.

While the rest of the team practiced serving on their own, Coach Louie Alicea personally taught me about the different variations of grips a tennis player can use such as the continental grip, eastern backhand grip and two-handed backhand grip. Using the more common and basic continental grip, Alicea threw tennis balls to my side of the court while I practiced “scooping” the ball successfully to the other side. After learning what he taught me, I realized that I struggled so much during the earlier rally practice I had with Banik because of the way I gripped my racket and the technique I used to hit the ball.

At the end of the practice, I walked away from the tennis courts knowing more about how the team practices to prepare for upcoming tennis matches. Not only that, I also felt a sense of accomplishment having gained knowledge regarding the sport’s inner workings and techniques on how to play a successful tennis game.

While the rest of the team practices, varsity coach Louie Alicea gives me a lesson regarding how players grip a tennis racket correctly. Photo by Gaia Faigon.

While the rest of the team practices, varsity coach Louie Alicea gives me a lesson regarding how players grip a tennis racket correctly. Photo by Gaia Faigon.

With new knowledge, I was able to finally hit a few tennis balls to the other side of the court while correctly holding the racket. Photo by Grace He.

With new knowledge, I was able to finally hit a few tennis balls to the other side of the court while correctly holding the racket. Photo by Grace He.

While rallying, I successfully was able to hit the tennis ball to the other side of the court despite having little experience. Photo by Grace He.

While rallying, I successfully was able to hit the tennis ball to the other side of the court despite having little experience. Photo by Grace He.

During the beginning of practice, the team and I stretch our legs in a pose more commonly known as the ‘model’ stretch. Photo by Gaia Faigon.

During the beginning of practice, the team and I stretch our legs in a pose more commonly known as the ‘model’ stretch. Photo by Gaia Faigon.

From the court’s baseline, I practice rallying with a varsity tennis player, ShovikBanik. Photo by Grace He.

From the court’s baseline, I practice rallying with a varsity tennis player, ShovikBanik. Photo by Grace He.