Hudson's Bay tennis roster full of new players

Many Eagles still learning, and having fun in the process

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Corbin Alexander had to be encouraged to play tennis for the Hudson's Bay Eagles.

Now he gets to the tennis courts early.

Thanh Vo is enjoying the experience so much that he plans on trying to convince more friends to go out for the team next year.

Saul Paez is a soccer player first. But he loves the challenge of tennis.

All sophomores and all new to organized tennis, they are three of many first-time tennis players at Hudson's Bay.

Coach Jim Sevall has seen his program grow from seven players in 2009 to eight in 2010, then 10 last year and now 16. There are 10 sophomores on the squad, none with any experience on a tennis team.

While the Eagles do not yet make for a winning program in terms of team matches, they do have a winning attitude, which makes them easier to coach.

"They're always out here before I even get here," Sevall said of practice. "They're always ready to go."

Fun.

That is the common theme among all of the Bay players.

"Everyone tries to get here early because we all laugh and have fun playing tennis," Alexander said. "Practice is supposed to start at 2:30. We all come here as soon as the bell rings" at 2 p.m.

Corbin's mother, Kathryn Alexander, signed him up for tennis.

"I was kind of bummed out," Corbin explained. "The first two days, I wasn't really liking it at all. Now, I love tennis and I can't wait to do it next year, too."

Alexander said Sevall taught all the new guys the proper stroke, and just like that, things changed.

"I can actually play this game a little," Alexander said.

Those are the moments that make coaching worthwhile, Sevall said.

"It's been a struggle, just getting the interest out for tennis," the coach said.

Now, he has players doing their best to get the word out.

Vo said a couple of his friends were playing and it looked like fun. He figured he would give it a try. Also a basketball player, he wanted something to keep him in shape until the winter sports season.

"It's pretty fun. I'm getting better every day," Vo said. "We have a great coach here, and it's really fun with my friends. I'm going to try to get 30 people next year."

Paez joined the team three weeks into the season. At first, he thought his club soccer commitment would get in the way of a fall high school sport. But he had so much fun playing tennis with his friends in the summer that he made it work.

"We didn't even understand the rules," Paez said of his summer tennis. "But we started liking the sport more and more, and here we are."

Aaron Bode enjoys the new-look Eagles. A junior who is in his third season with the team, he remembers when the squad only had eight players.

"We don't have to forfeit anymore," he said as one of the obvious benefits. "It's cool to see people improving. At the same time, I wish we were a little more competitive. But we're having a great time, and this is a good bunch of guys to play tennis with."

Sevall said in a perfect world, most of his new players would be competing at the junior varsity level or even the C-team. Many, though, are filling varsity roles.

"They've got a lot to learn, and I'm trying to make it fun so they will stick with it," Sevall said. "Ideally, the next step is getting them lessons."

The first step for Hudson's Bay tennis has been taken.

"A kid gets the bug, and he wants to play, play, play," Sevall said.