Youth fuels boys' tennis season

By Matt Bajkowski
Staff Writer
Being number one is the key to many athletes and the key for many teams.  The best take the top spot and for Prospect tennis, that is freshman Carson Burke.
Out of the ten seniors, five juniors, and two other freshman players on the team, Burke has beaten them all and has taken the number one spot on the team’s ranking ladder.
Burke is not alone though as a freshman, two other freshmen have also joined the ranks of varsity this year, Ralph Tenuta and Sam Tambeaux.  And although the three are great players, they all face strong competition for a playing spot on the team.
Varsity tennis has 11 spots that play at meets and tournaments.  They consist of eight doubles spots and three singles spots.  Varsity’s 18 players have been vying for these chances to play since the season began with their first meeting on March 2nd and in the summer program before that.

Being a freshman on an all upperclassmen team is a daunting idea, but Burke says the nervousness has gone away as the season started.  Burke has played for five years and knew tennis was his sport when he first started playing.  Coach Rick Huffman also thinks that Burke doesn’t play nervously because he has played in numerous tournaments and competitions before.
Huffman has seen Burke play tennis for three years since Burke participated in the summer tennis program at Prospect before becoming a freshman.
Tenuta and Tambeaux were similarly introduced to Huffman.  Huffman knew they were great players and could compete at a varsity level by the beginning of the season.
“After one week it became pretty clear,” Huffman said. “In some cases they were as good as seniors, if not better.”
With senior traditions like froshing, Burke was expecting some type of joke or light prank to be pulled on him for being one of the top players as a freshman.  However, he now feels that “the upperclassmen players are cool with it.”
“Seniors Matt Werderitch and Mike Hamman have been great at practices,” Huffman said.  “They encourage the team, have kept the players focused and have also been showing the freshmen the ropes.”
Werderitch is happy that great players like Burke have joined the team this year.
He feels they deserve a place on the team because of their talent and their hard work in practice.  Werderitch is also sure that they will help the team go far this year.
The seniors have been pushing the team to work hard to reach their goal for the season for this year.  The team has its sights set to win their division championship and Huffman thinks that they will not place below second.
For conference though, Huffman said they will have to deal with what he sees as the two best teams, Fremd and Barrington.  Fremd was the conference champion last year and Huffman believes they are the best looking on paper because they have a lot of returning players.  Huffman is positive though that his young team will give both Barrington and Fremd a run for their money.
“We just have to tie our shoes tighter,” Huffman said.  “And say ‘here we go’.”