by Alex Nguyen-Phuc

Despite the realitively small size of the team, boys tennis shows potential early in the league season.
Only a few league games into the season, coaches Rob Fronauer and Carolyn Leach comment, “We’re still figuring out our strengths and line-up for singles and doubles. We have some depth and options as to how we are going to organize the season.”
Currently, the team has a record of 3-5, undefeated in league play. Sophomore Jackson Belcher commented, “We have had a rough start since last year we started out 5-2.”
Last year, the team went 11-3, undefeated in league, but lost           in     the first round of CIF.
Sophomore Maximilian Hawkins said, “Our team this year is more focused and determined to win than last year. I think we are a bit better.”
According to senior and team captain, Saagar Shah, “The team is strong as always and we are improving rapidly, so it will be easy to make it into the playoffs as first in league”.
Director of Chadwick athletics, Rollie Johnson has high hopes for the team.  Johnson says, “I think Maximilian Hawkins is going to kill everyone.”
Freshman Derek Char agreed that Hawkins is a strong key player on the team.
Char says, “The hardest match was the one against Peninsula since Max lost. That doesn’t happen.”
The main difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is most likely the team size. Despite the fact that the team lost some important members when the previous seniors on the team graduated, it has gained new important figures such as sophomore Matt Sumen who says, “We have to improve on our serves and most of all, our mental game.” Other new players include senior Conor Dawson, junior Jasper Burns, as well as six additional freshmen.
Even  with this new crop, there are less than twenty students on the team, making the team significantly smaller than last year’s team. Earlier in the season, matches were being played with just a varsity team. Hawkins had even gone on to say, “Three more guys need to come out for tennis so we can have a junior varsity team.” Though three more guys never went out for tennis, the coaches eventually split the team. This means there are few subs for varsity and junior varsity plays with only eight members, one tennis player short of the typical three singles and three doubles teams line-up. But the bright side of having such small numbers is that players get more time on the court, which not all players from last year’s team got to enjoy.  Even those who are playing tennis competitively, like freshman Derek Char, do not mind sharing the playing time. Char says, “Being a freshman on the team doesn’t really feel that different except they don’t care as much about us messing up during the games.”
However, having such an undersized team has meant that bonding between the players has reached a new extreme. They bonded over making freshman Zach Herbst bring baked good for the entire team because he forgot a history textbook after an away game before league play started. “I forgot to make cookies and had to convince my mom to go out and buy some before practice.” said Herbst. Even Coach Rob took part in torturing this freshman by forcing him to run laps because he forgot to bring a sweatshirt to a game. But Belcher clarified: “We like to joke around a lot, like when my partner Saagar and I sing songs during practices. But we get very serious during matches.”
The new level of team bonding has helped the team to become closer with each other, which is important considering that tennis is a sport the requries a high amount of trust between team players during play time.
However, some of the best moments of this year’s season did not occur on the court at practice or during the matches. Many of the top memorable team experiences have happened during the bus rides.  According to Hawkins, Matt Sumen can really rock out to his iPod, especially when he thinks no one is watching.
The bus rides to practice and to matches have given the team even more time to bond and get to know one another.
With such a small team, the team can enjoy the bus ride experiences together instead of in separate smaller groups.
Though they may have had their doubts, the team has been able to turn its small size into an advantage.