What Comes Before Varsity


JV tennis players Nathan White and Isaac Sanchez celebrate a good shot in their doubles match.

Aven Ottmers and Sophia Lutz

The ball whistled through the air as they shield their eyes from the sun. They take a deep breath, preparing to send the ball back over the net. Despite the sweat and the constant heat, this is where they feel at home.

This is a regular morning practice for the JV tennis players, and for sophomore Julia Cleland, it’s her favorite time of day.

 “I just love playing tennis in general because it’s pretty chill but also can be really competitive,” Cleland said. “In tennis, there’s never a bad practice.”

Even though the players sometimes feel overshadowed by varsity, they understand that it is a stepping stone to higher levels of tennis. 

“I think JV is a little more relaxed than varsity and has more fun practices, but we also work hard,” Cleland said. “I feel like JV is meant to prepare you for varsity, so it’s just like I’m using JV to get myself ready to play on the varsity level.” 

 Just like in any sport, the players in JV have created strong bonds while working together. To freshman Vincent Hickey, making friends is a big part of being in tennis. 

“I bond with people by practicing with all my teammates and making friends with them,” Hickey said. “Going to tennis matches helps to create real connections.”

While doing drills to better the tennis team is helpful, some competition is always the most fun.

“My favorite activity in tennis are challenge matches,” Hickey said. “It puts you up against your teammates to see who is better.” 

Tennis has its ups and down, but junior Yaneth Viveros always looks for the positive when it comes to practice. 

“I like that on JV they have practices in the morning,” Viveros said. “I really like working out in the morning in cooler weather.”

Viveros has been on JV for three years, but hasn’t lost her passion for tennis despite not being on varsity.

“It doesn’t bother me that I’m not on varsity because I’m an average tennis player, but I wouldn’t say I’m the best,” Viveros said. “I mostly just play the sport because I love to play it. It doesn’t really matter what team I’m on.” 

While hearing from the players gives good insight on what it’s like to be on JV, Coach Gilbert Renaud also plays a big part on the team. He’s been coaching for quite some time and enjoys it as much as his students do.

“Coaching tennis is fun, just like any sport I’ve coached in the last 26 years,” Renaud said. “It is because of the kids. The athletes that make it fun and watching you guys learn how to do something excel, at it, be happy about it.”

Just like the players, Renaud also has certain activities that he likes to coach during practice.

“My favorite activity in tennis is the consistency drill because it overall improves the athletes’ skills despite being boring,” Renaud said. “If we’re able to get three balls in a row, we may win a match, and I have happy kids with a happy coach.”