The Boy’s Tennis Coach

An interview with Mr. Ihde

Julia Berg, staff writer

Q: What do you feel is the hardest thing about coaching boys tennis?


A: The hardest part? That’s a good question. I think one thing that can be challenging, I don’t know if there’s the hardest part or not. One thing that can be challenging is that it can be guys to get a large number brought into tennis. A lot of people see it as a hobby or as something extra or whatever. And having done this for a long time when I was first coaching tennis, you know, almost 20 years ago, there were a lot of athletes who would say I play football and soccer and basketball and I’ll try tennis in the spring. Increasingly, students are more likely to specialize and play year round. And so tennis for a lot of people is their second or third sport. I know for me, soccer when I was in high school, soccer was my number one and I also played tennis. I think the most challenging part right now is getting those athletes to mix it up and play multiple sports. And so I think that the more that people’s focus on one sport, the more sports like tennis shrink in terms of total numbers.


Q: Why do you feel that tennis is seen as more of a hobby?


A: I think because it’s an individual sport. So if you’re growing up, and like when you’re growing up, a lot of kids go out in the backyard and play football and go on the driveway and shoot hoops they do with their friends. They play it on the playground. They’d be like you can go over here at Liberty elementary school, there’s kids kicking a soccer ball that gets thrown a football, there’s kids shooting a basketball. You don’t see kids playing tennis, you can’t do it on the playground, obviously for equipment reasons, and then it’s an individual sport. It’s probably a big reason why soccer was my number one sport. I’m a very social person. And I love the team aspect. And tennis is individual. So like if you’re going to tennis tournaments, you’re probably you and your parents, and it just has a different feel that that’s one of the cool things about Team Tennis is people who have played a lot of tennis and enjoy that sometimes it can be a little bit lonely. You’re kind of this lone warrior going and playing in tennis tournaments and Team Tennis suddenly gives you a chance to be part of a group. And so that’s probably my favorite part of I might be jumping to a different question of yours. Probably my favorite part of coaching tennis is the team camaraderie, the team connection.


Q: So what’s it like being a tennis coach?


A:I really enjoy coaching tennis. It is. It is probably the most laid back sport to coach in terms of I’ve coached team sports like soccer and basketball softball kind of thing, which have a little bit higher level of like, kind of team intensity and tennis a little bit different because it’s an individual sport. And because it’s what I would call kind of a hobby sport, like golf or something like that. Some people do it for a hobby, some people do it competitively. It just has more of a laid back feel.


Q: You mentioned you had coached some different sports like softball and tennis. Why did you choose tennis?


A: So some sports head coach, I only coach softball a year. I coached soccer for 25. I think this is like around 19 With tennis, tennis and soccer, easy choices. I coached basketball for 11. That was kind of awkward. When I was in high school, I played soccer and tennis. And I was a very competitive high school player. Like that was kind of my most successful sport. I was able to get to play one number one singles for my team, that kind of thing. So I had past success in the sport. I really enjoyed it. We had a lot of camaraderie on our team, just a really good group of guys. And so it was a pretty natural draft for me.