The secret to a successful tennis program at Greenhill might be more than just serving and volleying. How about scheduling?
The boys program at the school has won four consecutive SPC championships, and is an overwhelming favorite to make it five straight this spring on its home court. That’s due in part to the volume of students at the school who play extensively in junior tournaments throughout the year.
So the on-court performance typically isn’t an issue. Instead, the challenge becomes working around outside travel and tournaments for individual players while finding time for academics, too.
“We’ve been pretty good about balancing it,” said Greenhill head coach Scott Cotton, who took over for longtime coach Tim Barnard in 2016. “There’s a climate of quality tennis on our campus.”
Greenhill won eight SPC crowns in boys tennis in the past decade, with a handful of players competing at the college level and turning pro. This season’s top player, Max Mendelsohn, has signed with Pepperdine.
The championship banners are displayed inside the Deason Family Tennis Center, a 10-court facility on campus that opened in the early 2000s and houses an extensive list of programs for adults and children.
“They give us so many benefits. I get more time to study and I don’t have to play another sport,” said sophomore Max Motlagh. “Greenhill has a lot of players at a good level.”
Indeed, the allure of talented teammates might sway some students to compete for the Hornets who might otherwise focus exclusively on their junior events outside of school, or who might attend a full-time private tennis academy.
“Greenhill lets you play tennis on your schedule,” said junior Rishi Vas, who has earned all-conference honors in each of the past two years and never lost a dual match with his Greenhill teammates during that time.
That’s another benefit for some of the top players at Greenhill — the opportunity to compete as a team in a sport that’s known for only singles and doubles.
The Hornets accepted an invitation to participate in a March event sponsored by the National High School Tennis All-American Foundation in Newport Beach, Calif., where they won three of four matches against top programs from the West Coast.
Now their attention turns to the SPC tournament, on perhaps the only weekend during the season where the entire Greenhill roster will share the same court.
“Tennis is such an individual sport,” Motlagh said. “It’s hard to make it a team thing. This brings us closer together.”