Nervous balls: Tennis team talks regional competition


Senior Hieu Phan signs autographs along with his teammates as they head to regionals. Photo by Leslie Gorostieta

By Aniket Rattan, Staff Reporter

Hasting’s varsity tennis team played their regional game against Clear Falls High School on October 15. The team ultimately placed third in the district tournament but, for players, it was a nerve-wracking experience.

“I was very nervous at first and couldn’t keep my legs from shaking in the locker room,’’ said Antoin Nguyen, varsity tennis player.

Students are often told how much effort is athletes put into their sports. The scores, whether wins or losses, and the dates of upcoming games are consistently on school announcements.

However, no one announces what happens outside of Hastings’ walls at these matches. Student athletes play in different areas of Houston and many things factor into the reason why sports teams win games or lose them. For the varsity tennis team, it was a very close call.

“Regional was very tough,’’ said Melissa Valdez, varsity tennis player. “Back and forth again, and again, and again. Our opponents were pushing us to our limit and found our weaknesses in some matches we played. It was un-motivating for sure.”

As a matter of fact, this was the first time the Varsity Tennis team went beyond District level competition.

“Yeah, I never thought we would grow past district,’’ said Charles Demdem, varsity tennis player.” We played for many years and now we’ve become very good to go pass District. We train every day and put in the hard work. Endurance training, coordination, reflexes, speed, and practicing technique go in hand to what we do everyday. Some skills a bit more than others depending on what we needed to work on from the last game.”

As far as competition goes, players said the tension was overwhelming due to the stakes this event had. Mistakes could ruin the team’s hard work and preparation for this moment. For varsity tennis players, how they handled this was crucial.

“Even if everyone says you’ll lose, the moment you believe that is when you really lose,’’ said Valdez. “We win these games not just physically but mentally as well. We play a mental game with ourselves and our opponents in these matches to win”.

Everybody is different in how they prepare for their challenges that come on stage For Nguyen, it was an experience that he was familiar with.

“To be honest, I’ve always thought of big matches like regionals as another regular match,’’ said Nguyen. “It’s so that the tension wouldn’t be so huge. I would think back to the training and what I would have to lose if I didn’t give it my all. That’s because like all my other matches, I always play with my full potential and playing with a purpose to keep improving myself ”.

During stressful times, having a mentor can be critical. The players believe their coaches do their best to allow them to see the hope within themselves.

“On the bus to our regional matches with Clear Falls, our coaches were our biggest motivators,’’ said Valdez. “Coach Davis and Nguyen gave us a motivational speech, everyone hyped each other up, slapping each other’s backs and cheering along the way.”

Many sports teams have their own trademark chant that they would usually cheer before a big game and the Bears at the regionals game were no different.

“We do have a chant,’’ said Demdem.

“It usually means as a way for the opponent to think we play bad. It goes 1, 2, 3 Boo Boo Bears!”