University Takes Its Final Exam : Tennis: Warriors play Chatsworth for City 4-A Division tennis championship Friday.
Tom Anderson and Joe Santellano both say it pays to be relaxed when it comes to coaching high school tennis teams.
Santellano of Chatsworth High says he learned that approach from Anderson of University. But he thinks that Anderson has much more reason to feel relaxed about Friday’s Los Angeles City 4-A Division championship match between the teams at the Universal Racquet Center in Studio City at 2 p.m.
“They’re an awesome team,” said Santellano, adding that University has several players who compete in top junior tournaments outside of prep tennis.
“We’re a good solid team, but we have to play better than we’ve played recently to beat them,” he said.
University, which has a wealth of top singles players, is favored to win the championship. Four Warrior players are among the top eight seeds in singles in the final rounds of next week’s 4-A individual championships at the Universal Racquet Center.
University’s high seeds in singles are No. 1 Ross Loel, No. 3 Jason Clark, No. 5 Jon Kelly and No. 8 Bryan Newell. Oscar Ochoa of Palisades is seeded second behind Loel. Palisades, defending 4-A team champion, was eliminated by Chatsworth in the semifinals.
But Anderson said his team might be vulnerable in doubles, so he plans to team Jason Clark with Mike Redmond at No. 1 doubles.
Clark was the City 4-A singles champion as a sophomore and last year won the doubles title with Arthur Mack, who has graduated. Anderson said that using the Clark-Redmond team might prevent a doubles sweep by Chatsworth.
Anderson said he expects that Chatsworth’s best player, Ron Charles, should win a couple of sets and earn points in singles in the round-robin championship match. If Charles takes points in singles, Anderson said he thinks that Santellano might use lesser players in singles and team Charles and his other top players in an attempt to sweep doubles.
Santellano said that if University has any weakness, it is in doubles. He said Anderson’s decision to use Clark at doubles is “a good move on his part.”
Although Chatsworth defeated University, 4-3, during the season, Anderson did not have three of his top players in the lineup. Two of University’s best players were ineligible for that match, and Clark had a pulled thigh muscle.
Santellano said that not only will Charles have to earn points in singles, but he will also have to get some singles points from his No. 2 player, Sanjay Srinivasan.
“We will have to hit the course running because we’re not the type of team to come from behind,” Santellano said. “They’re an intimidating team because of their reputation. They’re a class act, and we have patterned some of the things we do (after) them.”
Santellano said that he has modeled his coaching methods after Anderson. “I like the way he handles his players. He’s a lot easier-going than (a coach who has) a football mentality. In tennis, you can’t take a player out and talk him (into being) positive.
"(A relaxed approach) is a lot better on a coach’s own nerves too. There are some things you can do, and you can’t worry about the rest because it’s the kid who has to play.”
Before he coached tennis, Santellano coached football. Anderson was University’s basketball coach for many years before he became tennis coach. Both believe the toe-the-line methods of basketball and football coaching don’t work as well in tennis.
Anderson said he was a tough disciplinarian when he began coaching the University tennis team but said he learned that easing up on his players got better results.
He said he was almost forced into becoming laid-back because University has only two playable tennis courts, which makes it impossible for all his players to practice at the same time and place.
Having only the two courts, he said, “was an excuse for letting our players (practice) with their buddies or private coaches. I’ve been real flexible with our top players because I know they’re working (on their own), and my time can be better spent with our next level of players.”