Headed to State


Sean Hoey

Although it was gloomy and raining outside, inside the MVP Tennis Center it was shining brightly for the Panthers. Jr. Sam Duckworth, only one point away from clinching a Regional title for WO, stood across from a familiar opponent, an opponent that he had never beaten. Duckworth’s teammates cheered him on; “Let’s go Sam.”  “Come on.”


The final rally began. Duckworth sent his opponent’s serve crosscourt with a strong forehand return. His opponent  proceeded to put his backhand into the net, allowing the Panthers to clinch a Regional championship. The team rushed the court, surrounded Duckworth, and celebrated their accomplishment.


  The driving force behind the success of the Boys Varsity tennis team is the great energy and intensity that they are able to generate. “During a match, we will continuously say ‘Go WO’ and usually it’s a chain, so when one person says it, it is followed up by others saying it as well. And if you get a changeover you give a teammate a high-five, tell them they are doing a good job, and pick them up,” said one singles player Jr. Travis Bethke.  This happens at every match, whether it’s a conference dual match or an 8-team weekend tournament.  The energy truly was prominent at the the Rockford match. “Every time doubles [Jr. Adam Dykens and Jr. Dominic Aquino] would win a point they’d yell, and then someone would yell ‘let’s go WO,’ followed by every flight repeating the cheer,” said Duckworth.


  Opposing teams and fans don’t always appreciate the energy and volume that is part of WO’s success. “We are louder and more energetic than other teams. But we do it with sportsmanship; it’s not meant to be obnoxious or rude,” said  three singles player Sr. Justin Anair.  Parents and coaches of other teams have complained to officials that the yelling and high energy is not the way tennis should be played.  Even opposing players dislike this style of play.  Other teams view WO as the “annoying” team and hate playing against them.


  This energy has definitely helped WO in the win column. “We get a lot of wins. Individually the energy can help, but as a team if we maintain the constant state of energy throughout the entire match it wears on the opponent leading to more wins,” said Bethke.  Anair agrees, “You get into your opponent’s head when you’re loud.  When you and your teammates are all screaming, that can really get into their heads, leading to winning more matches.”


  Though the entire team participates, there are clear leaders of the great energy. “The one doubles team, Dominic [Aquino] and Adam [Dykens], along with Justin [Anair] are usually the loudest and the ones that start our cheers,” said Duckworth. “Dom though, is almost always the loudest.”  Aquino’s leadership of energy was showcased during the WO JV Invitational.  He had gone to watch and support his JV teammates.  Anair remembers being able to hear Aquino cheering on his fellow Panthers at the North courts while he was across campus at the South courts.


  The Boys Varsity tennis team once again battled for the top spot in the OK-Red.  Unfortunately they fell to rival Rockford, finishing 2nd in the conference. They had a strong start to the season, travelling up north to Traverse City and winning the Summer Splash Invitational.  The team went on to go 3-1-2 in dual play, their only loss coming against Rockford.  They have also had success in tournament play, finishing 1st out of four at the WO Invite, 3rd out of 8 at the Elliot Pierce Invitational, 2nd out of 4 at the Forest Hills Central Invitational, 2nd out of 4 at the Forest Hills Northern Invitational, and did not finish the Ann Arbor Invitational due to inclement weather.


With the regional tournament win, the Panthers punched their ticket to the State Finals beginning this Friday at the Greater Midland Tennis Center. WO has some specific goals going into the tournament; one goal is finishing ahead of conference rival Rockford.