For the Juneau-Douglas High School tennis team, this season isn't solely about winning and losing.
In only its third year of existence, the Crimson Bears will be stressing the fundamentals of the game while trying to hook players on the fun of tennis.
"Hopefully they'll have an interest in it and have fun," JDHS co-coach Tony Nelson said. "That's what's it's all about. We want to have fun out there, that's the most important thing. If they love the sport, they'll stick with it."
Juneau-Douglas opened practice on Aug. 1 and boast a roster of about 20 players, though JDHS co-coach Amy Skilbred believes that number will rise when school starts later this month.
Crimson Bears junior Kaelen Knutson-Lombardo will serve as team captain while Nelson, who is also the tennis professional at JRC/The Alaska Club, labeled junior Brian Crowder and senior Nathan Woodring as experienced athletes.
The tennis team figures to be a hodge-podge of veteran players and rookies.
"It's just like anybody, you have a group of kids and some kids are more athletically inclined," Nelson said. "You always have that cross-section of kids. Some are quicker and some take a little more time."
The Bears are curently scheduled for just one tournament this season. JDHS will play in Fairbanks on Aug. 26-27.
Also, Juneau-Douglas is not eligable for postseason tournament play.
In the meantime, however, the coaches will stress having fun and learning the game while slowly building the fledgling program.
"It's kind of a tough situation," Nelson said. "We have to drum up a lot of the competition for them here. We're trying to create tournaments. Of course, getting other kids involved but it takes organization to run the events."
To combat the slim schedule, Nelson plans on organizing matches and possibly tournaments at the JRC throughout the season.
Ultimately, Nelson would like to see players take their abilities to the next level.
"I want to have a few players who are my students getting scholarships for college," Nelson said. "Maybe having other cities like Whitehorse come in. Whitehorse has a large tennis communities. Kind of getting these communities involved playing events and getting the kids in a tournament setting."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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