Redwood varsity boys’ tennis swinging into nationals after strong start to season


Photo Courtesy of Jack Benbow

Staring ahead, Sam Seifer looks to hit the ball.

Sarah Young

The Redwood boys’ varsity tennis team is serving it up into another season and has been invited to the National High School Tennis All Americans this year. The Redwood team was invited to participate after winning North Coast Section (NCS) Championships in their 2018 season. There is no guarantee of being invited based off of results, as invitations are only sent out to top-level programs, according to head coach Craig Flax. 16 top teams from all over the country receive an invite to the tournament, which is from March 22 to March 23, at Palisades Tennis in Newport Beach, Calif. The Redwood boys’ varsity tennis team is looking forward to the matches, according to Junior Gabe Lewis.

Lewis has been playing tennis since seventh grade and enjoys the positive atmosphere and motivation he found at Redwood after moving to Marin, and believes this has helped contribute to their strong team spirit.

“I moved from Jackson, Wyoming which isn’t much of a tennis-playing community in the amount of people who are really into tennis. In California, there’s a lot more people I play with and on the team who are trying to get better and care a lot about the sport, which makes a big difference,” Lewis said.

Having the opportunity to go to Nationals this year has encouraged Lewis to work even harder in practices and matches to help the team at the event. Another player on the team, sophomore and second year player Polo Cowan, who has been playing tennis since he was three years old, enjoys the personal responsibility of being on the team and believes the Redwood team uses it to their advantage.

“All the responsibility [is] on you so if you lose it’s not your teammate’s fault. With team sports, if you lose you can blame it on them, but [in tennis] you basically control the whole thing,” Cowan said.

Photo Courtesy of Jack Benbow
Jumping into the air to celebrate their win, the Redwood players Justin Langs and David Tierney are full of spirit.

The Redwood team plays games and practices five times per week, and has two hour-long practices after school for their entire season. At practice, the team usually warms up, then plays matches or rallies with each other, according to Cowan.

All the boys on the team play both doubles and singles, but finding the right pair of players for doubles teams is a huge responsibility that is ultimately decided by Flax. Flax has no problem handling the weight of this responsibility as he has been the head coach for three years at Redwood, and was the assistant coach for a year before that, making him familiar with the team. Flax makes sure to pick players who work play together and can volley well for the National Tournament.

“There’s definitely a strategy in how we create a line-up this year; it’s about matching the right players with each other for doubles. It’s about who meshes together the best in doubles,” Flax said.

Photo Courtesy of Jack Benbow
Reaching into the air, Sam Seifer swings at the ball.

According to Flax, one of the team’s top goals for this season is defeating the Tamalpais (Tam) High School boys’ varsity tennis team, as they are consistently regarded as one of the best tennis teams in the league. Although beating Tam will prove to be a difficult feat for the Giants, another exciting aspect of the tournament for Flax is varying the competition from the usual Marin County teams, as Tam was also invited to the national tournament.

“I’m most excited to see how we compare to the teams outside of California and to see teams from Hawaii and Illinois. I’m really curious to see how we will do against them,” Flax said. “I hope we win the tournament, but our toughest competition this year at the national tournament might just be our MCAL rival, Tam.”