Anticipation builds for tennis

After sitting through boring football games, half heartedly cheering during mundane basketball games, and maybe even going to the occasional wrestling meet or two, I think all Ames High sports fans are thinking the same thing: Thank God it’s tennis season. The highly anticipated Ames High boys’ tennis team is being led by new head coach Cary Justmann, who is also the ALP program coordinator and professional hall wanderer at Ames High. His list of credentials includes four years of playing tennis in high school and one semester playing at UNI, and one year of coaching at the high school level in Ottumwa. In addition, he is the proud owner of a Cleveland Cavaliers Jeff McInnis bobblehead doll. Luckily for Ames High, Justmann has set his standards high, which will be sure to satisfy the lofty expectations of the rabid Ames High tennis fans. “Our goals should be high,” Justmann said, “We have a very talented team.” The team has nine returning varsity players: seniors Peter Bracha, Scott Simpkins, Jonathan Larson, Edward Cho, Michael Dunlay, juniors Krishna Prabhu and Ryan Pesch, and sophomores Tony Chung and Ryan Larson. Senior and varsity tennis player Scott Simpkins also has high goals for the boys’ tennis team, although for different reasons. He said, “We need to make sure that we do everything humanly possible so we don’t let ourselves down, and more importantly don’t let our fans down. They go through so much for us and sharing the glory with them makes all the hard work worthwhile.” In addition to a talented varsity team, the boys’ JV team is coming off a season in which they only lost only one match all year. “We started the season off rough,” said sophomore and JV tennis player Stephen Bonnet, “But then we got our heads in the game and got to JV State. It was a really rewarding experience.” Last year, the JV team was an overwhelming favorite to win the fictitious JV State tournament, and this year is no different. To make sure that the tennis team fulfills its potential, Justmann said, “I’m going to challenge players more to get out of their comfort zone and change their game.” When he was a high school player Justmann had a specialized game, but he never adapted it to the competition. As a result, he often for the same reasons over and over again. The Ames High boys’ tennis team seems to be one of the best in recent memory, headlined by the incredibly talented senior Peter Bracha, who finished fifth in the state last year. Ironically, tennis was never his first choice of sport. “When I lived in Arizona, I used to be a soccer player. But when I moved here I tore my ACL, and the doctor told me the only sport I could ever play was tennis,” Bracha said, “I never really wanted to play tennis because I had always thought it was a girly sport. But I decided to try it once and here I am today.” Bracha picked up tennis during his freshman year and four years later Bracha is in a position to be the first Ames High boys’ tennis state champion since Ted Nassif lost in the championship match in 2003. He has set his goals on winning state, but he emphasized winning it all with the team. The first tennis meet of the year is Tuesday, April 11th at Southeast Polk at 4:15 and the first home meet is Thursday, April 13th against Urbandale at 4:15. Admission to tennis meets is free, although seating is limited. It is recommended that fans come early if they want good seats. This year the tennis team has the potential to be a great team and having screaming fans in the bleachers would only help, unless those fans cheer at the wrong times.