Boys tennis grows in number and confidence

Chapman’s tennis team has grown in numbers this year. The number of players has tripled from six to 18 in the span of a season. 

That was tennis coach Mark Lansing’s main goal. 

“The priority was to field a team that would be competitive and have enough players to be able to play all lines so there would not be a need to forfeit the number-2 doubles. That requires seven players,” said Lansing. “From the beginning of the year, the returning players pushed hard to encourage players to participate.” 

One of the recruited upperclassmen was junior Camden Souther. Being his first year he explains that he is trying to soak it all in while winning matches. 

“My favorite part of the season has been learning the sport and applying what I learn to go and win the games,” said Souther. 

Souther has fulfilled his job of learning the game and putting in the time and effort to win multiple matches now, according to Lansing. 

“Souther rounds out our starters at number 5,” Lansing said. “He currently has the best winning percentage and is probably our most improved player.”

Souther, a two-sport athlete, said he was motivated to play because he wanted to get the chance to play an individual sport.

“I decided to play tennis this year because it has always looked fun to me, and I wanted to try out a new sport that will be an individual sport rather than a team sport like basketball,” said Souther. 

Having a team of 18 players does come with challenges though. For example, it can limit playing time.

“We fill up all the courts and there’s only so many courts so you may not get to play as often as you would like,” said Ian Coates, one of the team’s middle-school players. 

The team’s top seed is sophomore Grant Kinlaw. With this title comes lots of responsibility and commitment.

“(I’ve) just gotta give 110%, 110% of the time, all the time,” Kinlaw said. 

Kinlaw’s goal for this season is to bring home the wins on court 1.

“(I want to) win as many games as possible while making the team better,” Kinlaw said.  

This year, the Chapman tennis team has been very successful as far as winning matches and improving the team. 

“We were able to immediately create a pretty athletic and competitive team while providing for the future,” said Lansing.  

Lansing is very proud of their team make-up this year and highlights the athleticism, maturity and leadership.

“The addition of three athletic seniors — Taygan Ray, Ricky Anderson and Saber Woodard, (who are) all two sports athletes — and returning senior, Sam Carroll added athleticism, maturity and leadership and immediately made us competitive from number 1 through doubles,” said Lansing. “With returning number 1 and 2 players, Grant Kinlaw and Mattew Davis, we are hoping to make some noise in the playoffs after not winning any matches last year.” 

As someone who is new to the team and high school sports, Coates is looking forward to forming a team and working together to make up the future of Chapman tennis. 

“I am mostly looking forward to being able to have a reliable team,” said Coates. “I have never had the opportunity to have that because I am used to only playing with my sisters. Having an official team and different people to play with is pretty good.” 

There are a good amount of middle school players that make-up the team now in which Lansing thinks will be the future of tennis at Chapman. 

“We have two returning middle school players, Grayson Pruitt and Owen Walker who, along with other six middle schoolers will be the future of Chapman tennis for the next several years,” said Lansing. “They are going to have to step in and replace the outgoing seniors, which will be some big shoes to fill. It will take some hard work over the summer in order to maintain and improve on the standard set by this team.” 

Overall, it is evident that there has been a big improvement through boys tennis this year. They have gone from not winning any matches last year to now having an abundance of athletic players who have the ability to make it to the playoffs. 

“I am satisfied with where we are right now, but these guys are capable of pulling off something special in the playoffs if they realize how good they are,” said Lansing. “The team has worked hard to be where they are, but with a little luck, they can make a deep run into the playoffs.”