Summer league provides experience for Pack tennis players|Washington’s first season a success

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Staff Writer

The Washington tennis team finished up its first full-season of play in the Down East 18U league on Tuesday morning with a dominating 6-3 team win over the Rocky Mount Gryphons.
But, Washington High School tennis head coach Michele Elks will be the first to say the summer season wasn’t about the wins, but the experience gained by her players.
“I’m more concerned about them improving than winning,” she said before her team’s final matches.
The Pam Pack joined the summer league after several of Coach Elks’ players asked her about clinics they could participate in during the summer offseason.
The head coach did a little research and found the summer league.
She thinks the in-game experience will be more beneficial to the players than any clinic or camp.
“Playing in a match is different than doing hitting and drills,” Coach Elks said. “There’s the mental aspect.”
The team includes five players from Washington’s girls’ tennis team, and four players from the boys’ squad.
The participating Pam Pack players are: Shannon Niederhauser, Mary Potocki, Samara Romero, Mary Margeret Fowle, Paige Ingalls, Alex Clark, Brandon Washington, Colin Daw and Jacob Elks.
Coach Elks hopes the success of the first season will encourage more prospective players to come out for the girls’ and boys’ teams.
“Washington used to be a huge tennis town,” she said.
If the feedback provided by players on the summer team is any indication, the sport could be making a comeback.
“A lot of these kids have been excited to play. They want to play, and that’s encouraging to me,” Coach Elks said.
What’s different about the summer league is that it’s gender-neutral, which means girls can play boys in individual matchups.
Coach Elks thinks this makes for better practice for both sexes.
“It’s good for boys to play girls,” she said with a slight smile. “Mentally, it’s a little bit tougher.”
According to the head coach, competition has been stiff throughout the 10-game season. One team the Pam Pack played had three high school graduates moving on to play in college.
Coach Elks said facing such competition gives her players something to work towards.
With the summer season done, Coach Elks and her girls can look forward to their first game of the fall season on Aug. 17 against Northeastern.
With the extra in-game experience, the head coach expects her team, which features eight returning seniors, to be extremely competitive.