Jake vs. WO (Tennis)


Jacob Holstege

Jake vs. WO (Tennis)

When I stepped onto the court I was feeling confident, but that quickly changed to anxiousness when I saw my opponent hit a couple warm-up shots. The goal was simple, return a serve from the number 1 singles tennis player at West Ottawa: Jr. Travis Bethke.  The results were predictable; it was going to be a humiliating failure.  

  Bethke started playing tennis in sixth grade and became quite good.  Since his freshman year, he has been on the Varsity Tennis Team.  This year he is playing first singles.

  I got into the correct position and spun my racket a couple times just like I had seen the pros do. Bethke bounced the ball and started to wind up.  I leaned forward and waited for the ball to reach me.  The waiting did not take long. I quickly swung the racket but I was not quick enough; the ball went flying past me.  

  The next serve, he came right back at me with a speeding fastball that had a slight curve.  This time was better.  I made contact and hit it on the court: just the wrong one.  I was told that I was swinging the racket like a baseball bat, but I did not know any other way to hit the ball. I couldn’t ask right away for advice, that time would come later. Instead, I attempted to return three more serves before asking Bethke for some help.

  Bethke’s advice helped immensely.  He told me to always be ready for the next ball, and to take a small step forward when my opponent hits the ball.  “The split step is a check of balance which will help you react quickly to wherever the ball is going,” Bethke said.  Finally, he told me to keep a wide stance, be on my toes, and stay low to the ground.

  After getting advice, I felt a lot better about what I was doing.  I stepped up and awaited the next serve.  Bethke threw the ball up and brought his racket forward quickly.  This time, I hit the ball on the right court, just not inbounds.  I was making major improvements.

  In total, I took EIGHT serves from Bethke.  I missed all but one, the last one.  After I had missed the seventh return in a row, Bethke chuckled a little and asked if I wanted a ball that I could return.  I just laughed, implying that it would be nice.  He hit it over softly, and i jogged up to the ball and hit it back.  He hit back a fiery “spike” that I hit way over the back line.  

  While tennis may look like an easy sport on TV, in reality it is anything but. My experience against Bethke has showed me just how difficult this sport is.  Next week, be sure to read about my domination of Soph. Natalie Dunn on the volleyball court.


Check out my experience at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOPPNcGRemQ