Longtime players of tennis, Gabrielle Sumpter ’16 and Sarah Boehm ’16 are captains of the Varsity Tennis team for the 2015-16 school year. The Oracle sat down with them to discuss their new roles.
Why do you like to play tennis?
SB: Playing tennis is really fun because it gives me an opportunity to spend time with people that I don’t usually get to spend time with and have team bonding experiences. Tennis can be really intense at times, so it’s nice to have a team around me to support me.
GS: I like to play tennis because although most people think it’s an individual sport, it’s actually very team related, especially when you play doubles. I love that aspect about it — although I’m responsible for my own points, it’s really a team sport.
It’s not just a physical game, it’s also very mental. You have to think about placements, and you always have to have a positive attitude because if you’re negative then you’re not going to make it. That’s something I’ve learned since I started playing tennis.
How has the season been so far?
SB: The season has been going really well. We won a couple matches and lost some, but I think that our team spirit has improved a lot since last year.
GS: Pretty good. We just started league matches this week, which has been fun. Just getting out there and having fun is really what our team is about, so that’s basically what the season’s going to be.
What do you hope to accomplish as a team this year?
SB: I think we hope to accomplish an aura of passion for the sport and kind of show that the tennis team can be really competitive — but also at the same time, we make sure to have fun at every match.
GS: As a team, I hope that we have at least two singles and two doubles teams make it to CIF. I think that’d be a huge accomplishment. But I think overall, to just make sure everyone is doing their best and learning. That’s what I hope everyone gains during this year of tennis.
What is it like to be leading a team of new varsity players?
SB: Having new players, and now being a leader of the team, is a really interesting challenge. Trying to incorporate everyone equally to play and allowing everybody to get to know each other well has presented me with new challenges, but I believe that we’re working to be a lot more cohesive and get everybody to a point where they feel like the team is also a part of their Archer family.
GS: It’s super difficult only because I was gone for a year, and so coming back to the team, especially after not playing that much before, it was a little challenging. Especially because I want to know every girl’s name, but that’s difficult. But I think it’s a fun challenge because I’m able to be a leader in a sport, which I’ve never done before, and it’s a lot different than leading a class or a club.
What are you two doing as captains to help the team bond?
SB: Gaby and I facilitate a group chat between our team. Also, we just make sure everybody’s on board with scheduling. But in terms of real bonding, I think just talking to the girls and making sure that they’re in good places when they play — and even if something’s going on with them, we can talk about it and help them try and move past it to participate to their fullest in the matches.
GS: Archer tennis team has a tradition of having a sleepover, so we’re trying to plan that out for this season. That’s always a lot of fun because it helps us get to know each other off the court and out of school.
How could you describe Coach Keith’s coaching dynamic?
SB: Coach Keith is a very different coach than I’ve had in the past because his dynamic encompasses a more holistic view of tennis as a sport, incorporating breathing exercises into our practices and making sure that we leave everything we have on the court and always making sure that we’re doing our very best and having fun.
GS: Keith is a very mental tennis player. He’s all about being positive and having a healthy mind and body while playing tennis and, just in general, in life. I think that’s really important because you don’t want to show your opponents that you’re frustrated or tired, and you always want to have a poker face going. I think he teaches us that really well. It also reminds me of my personal tennis coach, who I love. He loves meditation and being in the moment and taking time between points to think and really understand what happened, how you can improve and what you can do better for the nest point. I think those are really important teaching skills because it’s not like you’re just going through the motion of playing the game and getting it over, but you’re learning while you’re playing.