Wilkins all aces
Freshman phenom Connor Wilkins dominated the competition this season for Washington and it did not go unnoticed as the rookie netter was named Coastal Conference Player of the Year.
Wilkins took the conference by storm this season as he compiled a 15-1 singles record and teamed up with junior Luke Harris to go 10-3 in doubles play.
The 6-1 Wilkins used is long frame and quick feet to go a perfect 13-0 in conference play and fell one match short of making it to state in his first year with the Pam Pack.
“A lot of kids go their entire high school career and can only dream about winning conference player of the year,” Washington tennis coach Daniel Manzer said. “To be able to do it as a freshman is remarkable. … He did a great job this year. To be able to beat everyone’s No. 1 seed throughout the year is the hardest thing you can do in tennis.”
Manzer said what makes Wilkin’s so good is that he doesn’t beat himself and forces other players into making mistakes.
“He’s very consistent and has very good tennis fundamentals,” Manzer said. “He just does not have bad habits. A lot of the kids are great tennis players but they have so many bad habits. He’s just a well-rounded player.
“For example, his first serve isn’t the best in the conference but he’s the best player in the conference because he’s so well rounded. It makes it easier to overcome places where he’s not the best because he can get (opponents) in other areas. He doesn’t make mistakes.”
Manzer also said that despite his young age, Wilkins stays cool under pressure.
“He’s such a consistent calm player,” Manzer said. “Can you imagine here is this 14-year old kid playing against 18-year old seniors who outweigh him by 100 pounds. You can get rattled, but yet he wasn’t rattled this year.
“Sometimes you would have to remind him to calm down, but I guarantee you that by the time this kid is a senior nobody is going to have to remind him.”
Wilkins had tremendous success in his first year with the Pack varsity team and Manzer feels the future is filled with possibilities.
“I know his personal goal next year is to qualify for states, he was one win away from it this year,” Manzer said. “Next year I am also going to make him and Luke play a little bit more. They were one of the best doubles teams in the conference. I think with some more practice under their belts and they have very good potential next year and will be real dangerous.
“I can guarantee you that next season Connor will be in it for the conference player of the year again and Luke is going to be right on his heels.”