Practice makes perfect: New girls tennis coaches open up about coaching

Chloe McAleer, Reporter

After coaching boys tennis together in the early 2000s, boys head tennis coach Steve Lemon and science teacher Erik Johnson have taken over coaching for the girls tennis team. 

According to Johnson, they’ve had to take a different approach to coaching by focusing more on repetition compared to the boys team. At practice, they emphasize practicing serves and giving the team more chances to hit the ball. 

Moreover, Lemon said that coaching boys and girls are different as the boys team he coaches is more experienced with tennis compared to the girls team. 

“At practices, we can really go fast and straight into drills, often times where [the boys] are doing the drill without any coach feeding balls,” Lemon said in an email. “The girls team I am now coaching is quite a bit less experienced [players] and we need to slow down and kind of start from scratch.  It’s ok, though, because everyone, at some point, was starting from scratch.”

Along with changing up how they practice, the team has also had to change where they practice due to the poor weather. According to Johnson, the weather was one of the main issues for the team at the start of the season, forcing them to practice in the Lied Center rather than outside.

“We haven’t been able to get outside as much as we wanted to, so it’s kind of tricky to play at the Lied Center because the surface is different and there’s no lines for the courts,” Johnson said.

Lemon said the Lied Center isn’t the same as an actual tennis court which forces them to just practice the fundamentals such as serving and volleying rather than playing for points.

Though it took time for the team to get acclimated to the new coaching style, both of the coaches hope the team has a chance to improve and go far this season, and return next year.  

“This being my first year back after 8 years of coaching baseball, even the older girls are really not used to the “pace” that I like to use in our practices,” Lemon said. “They will eventually get used to it, and I have already seen improvement in the areas of hustle and “sense of urgency. I am excited to see where we can go with this group.”