Men’s tennis team swings for success

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Used with permission from Merit Wagstaff

The team celebrates a victory.

Aidan McKee, Reporter

It is a normal spring day in the Revere community. The sun is shining through a dense layer of grey clouds, the temperature outside is just uncomfortable enough, and spring sports are just blooming into their seasons. The final bell rings, and the tennis team makes their way to the courts, but, just as they do, a thunderbolt streaks across the sky and is quickly trailed by a torrential downpour of rain. While these April showers may bring May flowers, they do not pay dividends to the experience of the team, so quickly a new solution must be found. 

The team decides upon an indoor facility in which they can practice and make their way. Finally, they find a place of refuge where the team could begin their practice. For the next two hours, the teammates will duel one another, each swing making one another a better competitor. While they may face each other on opposing ends of the court at practice, it cannot be denied that they have the same goal in mind, becoming Suburban League Champions. It is a goal that every player wholeheartedly wishes to attain.

The Revere men’s tennis team has seen its share of success in the past, but with success comes challenges, and it is how they choose to tackle those challenges that will help better the team in the future. These challenges have brought the team closer together and bred a culture that has helped to win three straight Suburban League Championships, and they hope the pattern will continue.

Akshay Elango is one of the team’s keypoint players. Since he was very young, Elango has enjoyed Tennis, but it was not until recently that he decided to truly pursue it. Elango explained his connection to the sport and what stood out to him about it.

“I got into tennis when I started watching professional tournaments on TV, mainly because my dad watched them. We would wake up in the middle of the night to watch tournaments that happened on the other side of the world. The memories I have from watching those matches with my dad, and just how unique the sport has sealed the deal for me,” Elango said.

While Elango carried a strong appreciation for the game, he did not pursue the game competitively until relatively late. He explained what pushed him to begin to play and why he has continued.

“As I grew up, I had been hitting with my dad, but I began to take it seriously when I began playing during quarantine. With the extra time that summer 2020 gave me, I started playing almost every day, and it was only then I developed the passion I have today,” Elango said.

While the season is young, there has still been time for great successes. The team maintains an undefeated record of 5-0 and has beaten Suburban League rival Highland, but there are many successes outside of the numbers. Elango described some of them.

“While we are undefeated, we have had some close matches, and because of that, we have all learned a lot as a team. I think those matches will help us prepare for facing Copley and competing for the Suburban League Championship going forward, but also push us to compete at a higher level every day.

With every success, though, comes struggles. Even championship teams face issues that test the fabric of the squad. Elango has seen these problems firsthand and explained how they have been overcome.

“Unlike many sports, tennis depends almost completely on weather, and it has been tough recently as many of our practices have had to get canceled because of rain or cold weather. Our schedule is also jam-packed, like this coming week, we have matches all five days, and those two issues compound and make it difficult to get ample practice time before a match. Also, we have a very young squad which serves as both a blessing and a curse,” Elango said.

Merit Wagstaff is the team’s co-captain and one of the team’s veteran players. Wagstaff explained his start with the sport, and the commitment he has made to it.

“I started playing when I was about five years old. I played for a couple of months throughout each year rotating through other sports such as baseball and soccer as well. But, when I was around ten years old, my brother was playing and he kept beating me, so naturally, I wanted to beat him. I started focusing solely on tennis, and I have played ever since,” Wagstaff said.

While he has a vast amount of experience, a player can always improve. Perhaps the greatest motivator is one’s team, and for Wagstaff, that sentiment is carried. He told of how the team has pushed him to become a better player.

“The team pushes me to be better by showing up every practice and playing hard. In practice, they work hard doing different situational drills and practice matches. Each of my teammates pushes me to play at my highest level differently. We all push each other and it is a definite win-win,” Wagstaff said.

As a captain, Wagstaff has the duty of helping to lead the team. Success can bring both challenges and triumphs, an issue paramount for Wagstaff to navigate. He explained the example that he hopes to set for his teammates.

“I try to emphasize strong discipline, whether it be showing up early to practice, staying afterward to work on my hitting, or going to camps over break. I hope others on the team see the work I put in and take some inspiration to continue to push themselves every day,” Wagstaff said.

As Elango touched on the team being very young, this serves as both a major victory and a small stepping stone. Improvement is something that can always be made and is essential to any team. Wagstaff shared what improvement he has seen in the team and what he hopes it means.

“I am extremely proud of our team because they have been hard-working and humble all while delivering solid wins. I do hope our team can improve on consistency though. Besides that, it is mostly little things which are okay because with each match we play, we improve dramatically,” Wagstaff said.

Freshman Anish Chandran is playing in his first season with the team. While it is his freshman year, Chandran has also experienced many of the trials the team has faced, and the success it has found. Chandran explained this perspective.

“This being my first year with the team I have not experienced a lot of what the upperclassmen have, but I have seen some of it. No matter what the team faces we always find a way to overcome it, and that has brought us all together,” Chandran said.

The Revere men’s tennis team has seen success in the past and hopes to replicate it this year. While they have faced many challenges, and will continue to, the pitfalls have only brought the team closer together, and allowed for a greater understanding of the game to be attained. A sense of comradeship and determination has been bred and will hopefully grow into a fourth straight Suburban League Championship.