Walker takes over SMR boys ten­nis

Takes over for Sabedra at helm

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com

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.”

PHOTO BY HUNTER MARTIN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

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.

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