Boys tennis tryouts causes much anticipation

Taryn Robinson , Staff Writer

The boys’ tennis season at Manhattan High is approaching, and many are preparing their serves, returns and volleys.

With the start of the season comes tryouts, hosted by head coach Brandon Starkey and assistant coach Darren Allman at City Park yesterday. Many returning players are excited to start the 2020 season and see the team again, while incoming freshmen are coming to claim their spots on the team.

This season, the top six players will be on the Varsity team, the next 18 players on Junior Varsity/Varsity and the bottom 14, J.V. This leaves 32 spots open for both the returning and newcomers. 

None of the returning team has any doubts on whether they’ll make the team. They’ve been ready for the season to start since the beginning of the year and have had enough practice and plenty of time to prepare; they’re ready to knock the freshmen’s socks off.

“We’re going to smack,” sophomore Jackson Ivester said.

Ivester knows he’ll make more progress this year and already has goals in mind.

“[My goal for this season is] probably just winning State, if we can do that,” Ivester said. [And I] definitely [want] to make it to at least four varsity meets.”

Ivester was a doubles player in the 2019 tennis season and was in the top eight of the 32 players on the team at the time.

“[One thing I love about the team is that] it’s like a family, we all love each other,” Ivester said. “Nobody puts each other down and it’s a great environment.”

After all his practice and private lessons, Ivester still isn’t sure if he’s ready for this season.

“[I’m] probably not [ready], but you know, we’ll just go with it,” Ivester said.

While Ivester may not be ready, there is a junior that is ready to dive in. This junior would be Luke Craft.

“I’m very excited to start the season,” junior Luke Craft said. “I think I’ve put in the work in order to get prepared for this year’s season.”

Like Ivester, Craft has gone to group lessons and tournaments to prepare.

“[To get] ready for the season, I went to group lessons and tournaments through[out] the year,” Craft said.

He isn’t scared of cuts, and he thinks the freshman shouldn’t be either.

“Cuts don’t scare me because I feel like I have quite a good chance on making the team,” Craft said. “Some pretty important advice is to just calm down and relax, then you will find it much easier to just play the game.”

Ivester and Craft both play tennis all year round, preparing and staying in shape for boys’ tennis in the spring. Every Tuesday and Thursday they go to lessons with a group of friends called “Futures.” This group ranges from sixth graders to juniors, with no limit to age.

“Futures is great, there is always a high level of intensity and we always have a lot of fun,” Ivester said.

“Futures” keeps everyone in shape, with one day being cardio and the other working on technique. Everyone is always learning and never just sitting around.

“There are drills to keep us from making stupid mistakes, and there are games to let us use the skills we have learned,” Ivester said.

Both athletes have one goal in common: get into State and win it.

“This season I am really looking forward to what the team can achieve at regionals and state,” Craft said. “A goal for me is to get in the top 10 in state with my doubles partner.”

The Varsity boys’ first meet is held at Washburn Rural on March 31.