Creating friendships through tennis

Girl-heavy Wolves seek fun, improvement


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Eagle River’s Dylan Pruner hits a return shot in a match against West High on Thursday, Aug. 18. Eagle River dropped its first three matches of the season last week, falling 9-0 to South, 9-0 to West and 8-1 to Dimond. Boys No. 2 singles player Quinn Hulse picked up the lone Wolves’ match win, defeating Dimond’s Jason Tsi in their match on Aug. 16.

STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER

For children in military families, moving multiple times throughout their adolescence becomes commonplace. But that doesn’t make entering a school full of unfamiliar faces any easier.

However, athletics can help. Playing a sport is one way to form tight bonds quickly — a truth the Eagle River High tennis team knows well.

In a school full of military families like Eagle River, tennis is a great way to make friends, junior Jacob Klaameyer said at the Wolves’ Aug. 18 match against West High.

Sophomore Hannah Spainhour can attest to that.

“It was a great way to make friends early in the year,” she said.

Those friendships typically last throughout the year, said Klaameyer, now in his third year on the team.

Playing a fall sport is especially nice for freshmen, said second-year player Cameron Ryckman.

“You can make a lot of connections,” he said.

Twenty athletes make up the boys and girls teams for third-year coach Thornton Stanley. Eight are returning players.

For the girls, senior Evan Schmidt is the top returner, Stanley said. Senior Brody Schuyler is the boys’ key returner. Both are entering their fourth year of varsity experience.

“They’ve improved their skills,” Stanley said. “I’m hoping that they’ll be very competitive in the Anchorage School District.”

Schmidt said she’s looking to win as much as possible in her final year. The Wolves have 15 girls on the team, and the influx of fresh blood has brought a better work ethic to the squad, Schmidt said.

“I think we’re looking better this year,” she said. “I’m looking for the girls team to improve as a whole.”

No one knows why Eagle River had an increase of girls this season.

“There’s just a lot of girls that play tennis this year,” Ryckman said.

Though the team lacks experience, adding new faces is a positive for the program, Ryckman said.

“It’s nice seeing all these freshmen coming out,” he said.

The boys weren’t as fortunate as the girls, with just five players on the team. The lack of warm bodies has left the Wolves unable to compete in some matches.

“That’s a definite disadvantage, having to forfeit matches,” Ryckman said.

Klaameyer agreed.

“It definitely hurts forfeiting matches, but we do what we can,” he said.

Both sides have a season goal of improving.

“Just doing our best and getting better, that’s what I’m trying to accomplish for sure,” Spainhour said. “Winning is always good, too.”

Ryckman said the Wolves like keeping a light attitude — something Stanley knows about the team.

“Winning isn’t central,” Ryckman said. “We like to have fun. Our coach keeps that in mind.”

Taking pleasure in tennis is essential, Ryckman said.

“It’s important to put a strong emphasis on having fun,” he said.

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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