Walker takes over SMR boys tennis
Takes over for Sabedra at helm
After an absence of a few years, Joe Walker has returned home to St. Mary’s Ryken High School and was recently named the new head coach of the boys tennis team.
“I didn’t realize there there would be this opportunity, but I came here for soccer and it’s been great so far,” said Walker, who is also the school’s junior varsity head boys soccer coach and assistant varsity coach. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Walker, who is SMR’s associate director of admissions, takes over the job after Derek Sabedra stepped down after a two-year tenure with the Knights. Sabedra has coached the the past 17 years at SMR, Great Mills, Patuxent and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
“It was time to pass the torch to the younger generation of coaches who have new ideas and great enthusiasm,” said Sabedra, who is current- ly the assistant athletic director at Great Mills. “[Coaching] has provided me with so many great tennis memories for many years to come, [but it] has not left my life. I just have different responsibilities now.”
Sabedra also relinquished head coaching duties of SMR’s girls tennis team after a two-year stint to Susan Allison, who was 1-7 last fall.
Sabedra earned his 200th career coaching win (125 high school, 75 college) March 14 with a 3-2 win over St. Vincent Pallotti of Prince George’s County. He finishes his coaching career with 208 victories.
He will remain as vice-president of the St. Mary’s County Tennis Association and the SMAC tournament direc- tor/Region IV state tennis Mar yland representative.
Upon graduating from SMR in 2009, Walker at- tended Immaculata Uni- versity (Pa.) and in 2012 was 7-8 in singles (5-2 Colonial States Athletic Conference) and 2-13, 2-5 in doubles alongside Eric Schmidt.
The following sea- son, Walker was 7-7 (3-4 CSAC) in singles. Playing with T.J. Klinger at No. 2 doubles, the duo won sev- en of their last 10 matches to finish 9-5 (4-3) and were named All-CSAC honorable mention.
Walker graduated in 2013 with a bachelor of science and earned his masters in sports management from Florida State University two years later.
Last year, the Knights compiled a program-best 10 wins — which shat- tered the previous high of five set in 2003 and 2007 — and were 3-5 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
But SMR lost 10 of its players to graduation, including several key play- ers including No. 4 singles Luke Pratson (20-7, WCAC tournament semifinalist), No. 5 singles Will Gough (14-5 WCAC tournament finalist) and captain and No. 2 doubles Christopher Matthias (10-5). Gough was also the first Knight ever named to the AllWCAC team as well as the All-St. Mary’s County male tennis player of the year.
“I know they graduated a lot of seniors from last year, so I know it’s going to be a young team,” Walker said. “I think I’m going to get a good group to come in and I’ll try and get some soccer players to come out and hope to develop younger players and go from there.”
WCAC tennis plates six singles and three doubles matches.
“The first week we go out there there will be a lot of conditioning, because in tennis it’s a lot of 10-, 15-second spurts with a lot of running,” Walker said. “Then we’ll focus on fundamentals and playing and challenge matches to try to figure out what works out best.”
Joe Walker, shown here returning a shot for Immaculata University, was 9-5 with partner T.J. Klinger at No. 2 doubles and were named All-CSAC honorable mention.