Game. Set. Match


Saxons take First Place at Rockford Boylan Invite

Karthik Myneni, Editor Reporter

The Saxons Varsity Tennis Team currently sits at a record of two wins and three losses. The record almost always tells the full story, but not this time. This record does not tell that the Saxons earned first place at the Rockford-Boylan Invite. This record does not indicate that the team swept the Wheeling Wildcats.  This record does not mention how the Saxons competed to the end in close games, yet lost against Glenbard East and Hersey High School. The team knows this and they don’t let the losses affect their mentality. They have their goals and nothing will stand in this teams’ way of achieving them.

The Saxons are coached by Jonathan Schaefer and led by captain Daaniyaal Hussain. The singles positions are held by Max Brito, Danny Velazquez, and Takeru Satoh who are first, second and third respectively. The doubles positions currently are led by Daaniyaal Hussain and Pranay Singh, who hold first. The rest of the doubles teams are Dhyey Dixit and Rahul Kalakuntla, Joey Marzillo and Ali Hussain, and Justin Tsai and Aaron Camaganacan. I sat down with the captain to find out what went right in their wins and what went wrong in their losses, as well as their plan moving forward.  

KM: What went right against Wheeling and at Rockford Boylan?

DH: We came out to win right off the bat, and it showed in our individual placements and the team championship. Three first-place finishes and a third-place finish. Furthermore, it was an indoor tournament so the weather couldn’t affect us. We were mentally prepared to make a statement in our first tournament of the season. And it feels even better because SHS has never won the Boylen tournament before.

KM: What went wrong against Huntley, Glenbard East, and Hersey?

DH:  I think we got on our nerves a little bit. While Huntley is a good team, I feel all matches were winnable, but we left it short in our home opener. The other games it was more a game about mentality rather than skill set. We expect to bounce right back.

KM: What will you guys have to do heading into future matches, invites, and at the conference as well as the State matchups in order to be successful? Who will be your guys biggest competition? Who is favored? Why?

DH:  Going forward, we need to focus on being aggressive and hitting consistently, and it’s all stuff that we practice we just need to translate it into the matches. Some of these invites are longer ones where we have to spend like half a day playing, so we need to be physically conditioned. Right now in our conference, Barrington looks to be the favorite and reigning MSL champion. Many of those players have been playing since a very young age, but the players on our team have done a great job picking up the sport quickly as well. Frankly, SHS can compete against Barrington and other MSL powerhouses, because we really aren’t far off talent wise. The real match is against ourselves, and being able to maintain our composure. If we can win the mental game, I don’t see why we can’t compete right up there with the powerhouses. The same thing goes for sectional: we got moved into a tougher sectional and it’ll be more difficult making it to state, but as long as the boys can win that mental game, we are right in it with the best of them.

KM: What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the team?

DH: A big strength is our spirit, we like to show it out on the court and show other schools our Saxon pride. We also have a large squad with young talent. A lot of them have never even picked up a racquet before, but they are eager to learn and hopefully will follow on the varsity path in a few years. A weakness is our mental game. Like I mentioned, we tend to get in our head a little, but I’m confident we will get past that as the season progresses.

KM: What do individual team members feel about the team? What have they been working on at practices?

DH: The team is confident that we can compete against the best of the teams in the MSL and sectional tournament. During practice, we have been working on being aggressive as doubles teams and finishing our points. The singles players have also been practicing on being aggressive.

KM: How does tennis help in your lives? Do the skills translate?

DH: It may not seem like tennis helps you in a practical sense, however when you’re in that third set tiebreaker serving for match point, your mental game is put to the test. Tennis conditions your mental game and helps you maintain your composure in pressure-filled situations. This is important in daily life because we are bound to experience stressful moments every day.

The Saxons know exactly what they must do win. This team is a formidable one that other schools need to watch out for. There is no boundary to what this team can do. 

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