For the love of the game

*In tennis, a school must win 10 of the 19 matches (7 doubles, 12 singles) to win the overall matchup*

The date was Aug. 25, and the MacArthur tennis team appeared, on paper, to have a solid chance against the heavyweights of Churchill. The eager team was expecting 6 or 7 wins, however, the outcome was a 10- 3 throttling from the Chargers, as Mac vastly underperformed.

Fast forward to last Tuesday, the team’s season was in serious jeopardy, down 5-2 against Madison in the battle for the final playoff spot. The Brahmas went into singles needing major wins, even some upsets, to pull off this comeback. Glances and a few words were exchanged between the players before their singles matches, and the message was clear, “We’ve been preparing for this moment, now let’s go take it,” and the spark was ignited. From that point on, the Brahmas won 8 of 9 singles matches to steal 4th place in the district from the Mavs with the final score of 10-6.

Character, is one word that comes to mind when you see this team play. The players practice and play with an intensity that never gets out of hand because of solid senior leadership from Clayton Hernandez and Mary Cardone. Clayton understands how essential it is to keep everyone upbeat and playing hard.

“During practice we go all out, and during matches we yell across the courts to say nice shot or other encouraging things to pump each other up,” Hernandez said.

An extension of character is resilience. The team has had two major wins over elite competition in Madison (10-6) and Health Careers (10-9). The team was ranked 10th last year in the region on the TTCA rankings, and after proving themselves to be tough even in losses to Johnson, Reagan, and Churchill, 3 of the 4 top teams in the region, they will be much higher than 10th in this year’s rankings.

Freshman sensation Eddie Pompa has been terrific all season winning a 14 of his 15 matches playing mostly at the number 2 singles and number 1 doubles positions in the line up. He’s without a doubt the future of the program and loves being apart of a team in this individual sport.

“The best part is playing for a team and having something else to push you to play better during your matches,” Pompa said.

Clayton Hernandez has been equally as dynamic and even more reliable at times. He’s defeated the number one boys at major schools including Reagan, Health Careers, and Madison. His 17-3 record in all matches this season speaks for itself.

Twenty wins 0 losses in the 2015 season, Mary Cardone has been one of the top players in the region all 4 years of her high school career. Perhaps just as impactful is her friendly, yet assertive, leadership within the team.

This deep roster is essentially all returning varsity players from last year, the eight boys on the team are all talented and only four are seniors. Coaches Brady Wyatt and Michael Lopez have led the team to the playoffs three straight years and the players seem to feed off of their excitement throughout matchplay.

Tennis may not be the flashiest sport, it may be tough to watch as spectators can struggle to keep track of the score. However, in contrast to most sports, there is minimal time off for rest or regrouping of emotions. Athletes constantly have to be focused for every point to be successful, and the toughest part is that there are no teammates to put the workload on if they are having a bad day.

The other sports can keep the crowds, keep the Blue Crew, and all of the publicity. Tennis will continue to work year around, and quietly be one of the most successful programs at Mac.

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