Double troublePublished 8:57pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013
It was a short volley to the left. With partner Luke Harris backing him up, Connor Wilkins sprinted toward the sideline and used every inch of his lanky 6’1” frame to get his racquet on the ball and flip it over the net and out of reach of his opponents to cement a thrilling 8-5 victory over the Riverside combo of Chuck Conner and Rashad Williams.
It was that kind of play and victory that has allowed the Washington duo of Harris and Wilkins to maintain a perfect 6-0 record so far this season.
“Connor and Luke just play really well together,” Washington’s first-year coach Miranda Whitley said. “They’re used to playing with each other and communicate with each other well. They know each other’s games and know what to do and what not to do when they play together.”
The team was formed last year when Harris, then a junior, and Wilkins, a freshman, combined to go 9-1 in the Coastal Conference their first season together.
Back for another year, their potential has grown along with their talent and there’s no telling just how far they could go if they decide to remain a team in the playoffs, something they did not do last season as they opted to pursue singles play in the postseason.
“I think they would do really well as a doubles team at regionals and potentially at states,” Whitley said. “I’m pretty sure they would both rather do singles, but it’s too early to tell.”
The two netters are keeping their options open but said that their chemistry and on-court play has improved, which is a scary thought for their opponents.
“Since last year we definitely feel more comfortable with each other … We know which side of the court we want to play and our strength on each side,” Harris said.
“We’ve definitely gotten to know each other’s playing styles better, which helps on the court,” said Wilkins, who was last year’s Coastal Conference Player of the Year. “We know when each other is going to hit a certain shot and know each other’s tendencies.”
Both are talented and well-rounded players but each brings a little something different to the table.
“He likes to go after the ball and definitely hits shots that are pretty hard to hit,” Harris said of Wilkins. “Most of them go in. He’s a pretty consistent hitter.”
“He’s got a wicked serve on both sides if he gets it in. That’s the thing. But, if he gets them in it’s nasty,” Wilkins said of Harris. “He’s got great groundstrokes and great volleys. You really can’t say anything bad about his game.”
On any given point each player is capable of extraordinary things, but Whitney said the key is to be more consistent and execute some of the more basic principles of doubles play.
“They can’t give away free points,” Whitney said. “(On Monday) there were several times where their opponents would hit it right between them. They really need to work on cutting off the angles and knowing where the other one is.”
If they can continue to tighten up, Harris and Wilkins feel they can give any tandem around a run for their money.
“I think we can go pretty far,” Wilkins said. “Compared to the competition in the East, I think we can do some good things.”