Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Shenk Award

Okay, so we come to the end of Kyle Miller week today. With that, I'll present him one more award. The Shenk Award. This goes to the player who has come the farthest since their freshman year. The story goes that on his first day of practice, Jonny Shenk showed up with a wooden racket and didn't even know that was going to hold him back. He proceeded to become the most successful #3 singles player we've had in my time, over the course of his junior and senior year.

Kyle started his freshman year as probably the least talented and least committed of all of the seniors. That's not the terrible thing that it sounds, because this senior class was one of the most talented and most committed from the very start. I mean, Ben, Seth, Russell and Kyle all stepped right to the top of the JV their freshman year, and had good records at that.

But still, what I remember was after Kyle's freshman season, I was trying to convince him to work throughout the offseason at tennis, because I had a feeling that this class could do something special. His response to me was blunt and honest, he didn't think he'd be working on tennis because his real sport was baseball.

And I don't really know how hard he worked that offseason. All I know is that after his sophomore year, Kyle had changed his mind, and joined the workouts in the weight room, footwork in the hallways, morning tennis in the gym. He still remained committed to baseball, but he had found that he could be committed to both.

And his game grew. As a sophomore, he had played doubles with Russell, and I had felt that Russell was the stronger partner. As a junior, Kyle played varsity doubles with Austin Loucks (#1 doubles no less!) and Kyle was the stronger partner. They racked up some impressive wins including match clinchers and had a 13-7 record.

But Austin graduated and Kyle was left to find a new partner. He committed again to working on his game, and improved his serve and forehand from his junior season significantly, as well as his ability to put away volleys. He improved dramatically and was in place to be a dominant senior.

For whatever reason, the record didn't work out the way that Kyle had hoped. But this showed his growth all the more. Freshman or sophomore year Kyle would have gone crazy with the losses he suffered during his senior year, he would have blamed it on anybody but himself. He would have complained, wanted his partner switched immediately, sulked until he got his way.

But not senior Kyle. He had grown up into a leader, doing what the team needed most. His game got better, his commitment got better, and he became a leader. A far cry from where he was as a tiny freshman, four long years ago.

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