For coach Dean LeBreton, tennis is a passion. It’s not just the competition, it’s the grace and open air nature of the sport that appeals to him. It’s a passion he wants to pass on to his Emmett High tennis team members as well.
“It’s not just about the competition,” LeBreton says. “We do not have a tennis centric youth culture here. We don’t have a bunch of kids who have been playing tennis from an early age, taking private lessons and playing year round. That’s what they have to face on the court, however, when we step out in SIC competition.”
That challenge of the clash between two different cultures doesn’t deter LeBreton or the kids who have turned out to play tennis this year. They are realists and are making the best they can of what some may see as a substantial disadvantage.
“I guess its formidable if your only purpose is achieving a certain level of State competition status,” LeBreton says. “By and large we are all out here learning a game that we can play for the rest of our lives and with that perspective we are still able to have a lot of fun.”
That doesn’t mean that the Emmett tennis team isn’t interested in competition or success on the court.
They are just looking for it in a different manner, perhaps.
The lack of stellar singles players with years of experience and coaching has LeBreton moving players around in a variety of combinations each week to find the “sweet spot” for each. That has meant taking some of his more experienced singles players and combining them for doubles teams. In recent action the Huskies have been able to be very competitive in doubles whereas the separation from the top singles players and the field is more pronounced.
Bishop Kelly, Ridgevue, Middleton and Vallivue have been the recent powers in the Southern Idaho Conference. LeBreton sees that continue this year and the prospects of taking a full team to State are unlikely for anyone else. That’s where you work on finding some magic combinations that might afford a couple of kids at least a State opportunity,
Top doubles combinations so far this season include the girls doubles team of Kelly Crawford and Goldie Mumford. Boys doubles number one is Paxton Gregory and Gabe King. The promising number-one mixed doubles is Noah Shiflett and Haylee Jewkes.
The tennis team returns to action after a quiet spring break week when it travels to Vallivue on Tuesday. A home match in City Park is scheduled against Middleton on April 1.