Break point

2012 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games host tennis team ready to play

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

The 2012 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games host tennis team has had more time than some of their host team peers to pre­pare when ev­ery­thing kicks off Aug. 18 at the Aero Tennis Courts in Har­bour Grace.

That is be­cause the coach­ing staff re­spon­si­ble for the team did not have to make any cuts.

This al­lowed them to be­gin work on pre­par­ing for the Games right from the out­set in­stead of go­ing through a se­lec­tion process.

“There were just enough play­ers who showed up,” said coach Peter Ge­orge. “We had four fe­male and four male play­ers.”

Ge­orge said the team was picked af­ter the first day.

“We’re lucky we had enough play­ers show up,” said the coach. “As you know, there are teams who are strug­gling with that.”

It’s true.

Some of the host teams have ex­pe­ri­enced a short­age of ath­letes, which has seen or­ga­niz­ers push the re­gional bound­aries and even al­low for two-sport ath­letes, to help com­pen­sate.

While there were no play­ers to cut and that could be viewed as a neg­a­tive, Ge­orge sees the pos­i­tive be­hind it.

It al­lows for the team to be­gin prac­tic­ing as a co­he­sive unit from the sec­ond prac­tice up un­til the first match on Aug. 18.

“We’re lucky in that re­gard,” he said.

Fa­mil­iar­ity breeds suc­cess

Any team can find suc­cess if the play­ers have a sense of fa­mil­iar­ity with each other.

“They all know each other and from what I can tell they’ve been hav­ing fun,” said Ge­orge. “Which is what the Games are all about.”

Watch­ing the team prac­tice, you can tell each player is fa­mil­iar with each other.

There are jokes dur­ing warm ups, each chat­ting as if the per­son next to them is one of their clos­est friends.

But, when it’s time for a se­ri­ous run through, it is still pos­si­ble to see the chem­istry be­tween play­ers.

Ge­orge said each of his play­ers has a his­tory with the sport.

“They all grew up play­ing tennis and around the court,” he said.

The coach said Har­bour Grace has one of the strong­est tennis pro­grams, and the play­ers have ben­e­fit­ted from that.

“I think we have a great squad,” he said.

Lend­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Ge­orge has ex­pe­ri­ence in two pre­vi­ous NL Games, one as a player in 2000 and one as a coach in 2004,as well as rep­re­sent­ing the prov­ince at the Canada Sum­mer Games in tennis, so he has a vast amount of tennis knowl­edge to pass on to his team.

He said he ex­pects the tra­di­tional tennis pow­ers in the prov­ince to bring strong clubs to the Games.

“They were strong in past Games and I ex­pect the same thing for these Games,” said Ge­orge.

The coach is mak­ing sure to pass on all of his Games ex­pe­ri­ences onto his young team.

Tennis is nor­mally an in­di­vid­ual sport, but for the Games, it morphs into a team sport.

It’s some­thing Ge­orge is pre­par­ing his team for.

Each player must de­pend on their team­mates to pull the team onto the podium.

“Ev­ery­one re­ally needs to pull their weight in this com­pe­ti­tion,” he said.

Ge­orge said the mes­sage be­hind the Games is too have fun with your re­spec­tive sport.

“That’s the main goal and the goal of the Games,” he said. “If we medal, that would be great.”

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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