By: Taylor Williams
Walled Lake Central’s men’s tennis team had quite the season this fall. Between winning most of their matches (amassing a 7-1 record in the Lakes Valley Conference and 8-1 overall) and sending one of their star players to the state finals, they had a great season.
This was the team’s first season in the newly formed Lakes Valley Conference. Within the conference, WLC’s men’s tennis team competed against Walled Lake Western, Walled Lake Northern, Lakeland, Milford, South Lyon, South Lyon East, Waterford Mott, and Waterford Kettering. Despite all of these great teams, the tennis team placed second, just behind Walled Lake Western who was undefeated. Senior Denali Kitayama played so well that he progressed onto the regional finals where he eventually earned his spot at the state finals. At the state finals, Kitayama won his first two matches and then lost in the quarter finals.
Kitayama has been said to be the glue that held the team together. Teammate senior Anish Basavalingiah said that Kitayama took initiative at the beginning of the season to help out the other players. Basavalingiah claimed that “without him we would’ve been trash” with some humor in his voice. It is clear as day that Kitayama deserved that spot at the state finals.
Basavalingiah also expressed that the team was very content with their performance. Many players believe that the team is very close and that their bonding both on the courts and off, brought them many victories.
Freshman Troy Williams said that playing varsity his first year of high school with a lot of older players was a challenge. “A lot of the players on our team and the teams we were competing against were older and more experienced,” said Williams, “I found it very intimidating.”
One of the team captains, senior Ethan Raider, said that the team was very dedicated and practiced every weekday. Raider said he was initially motivated to make the team because “we had a talented group of guys who wanted to be the best every day we went out to play”. Raider also said that the team was so dedicated that they often stayed long after practice and sometimes even had “player only practices” on the weekend because the team was so determined to be number one.
The team recently had their end of the year banquet, where the team celebrated their season and awards, including varsity letters, certificates, trophies, and mini joke awards. The players watched as their teammates were awarded with comical things. Freshman Shaheer Khan was given the award titled “ShaWHERE ShaTHERE ShaHEER” and Williams was awarded the “Most Likely to be a YouTube Star”.
All in all, the varsity tennis team had a very successful season despite some of their internal struggles. Now everyone is highly anticipating next year’s season.