Seeing Robert Henry compete up close during the season might cause players from the boys’ tennis teams situated in the Pacific League to shutter.
What they see is what they get when facing the determined Henry, whose athleticism and creativity give him an edge that he maintains during most sets. Henry, a member of the Burroughs High tennis team, doesn’t let anything derail him, from the opening serve to set-point.
Nobody understood that better than Burbank Coach Loi Phan.
"[Former Burbank singles tennis player] Arthur Karagezian said last year that he’s so tough to play against,” Phan said of Henry. “He’s very athletic and he can get the ball back.
“When he’s out there, he presents a lot of problems. He’s gotten bigger and he’s got more power than before. He just goes out there and does what he needs to beat you.”
Karagezian was a two-time league singles champion.
Henry helped the Indians gain a share of the league championship with Arcadia during his junior campaign in 2010. Burroughs finished 16-3 — 11-1 in league — and advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs. Henry compiled a gaudy overall record of 40-6, to go along with a 28-3 mark in league.
He’s certainly not a stranger to vying for league supremacy either. After teaming last season with fellow Indian Trevor Campbell to win the league’s doubles crown, Henry showed he could handle himself well in singles this season.
The top-seeded Henry went on to win the Pacific League singles championship, defeating teammate, and third-seeded, Garrett Auproux, and went on to capture four of six sets in the postseason.
It’s because of those feats that Henry has been named the 2010 All-Area Singles Player of the Year by the sportswriters and???editors of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun.
“I think I got better every time I went out there,” said Henry, who breezed to a 6-1, 6-1 semifinal victory against fourth-seeded Albert Chen of Arcadia in the league semifinal. “I stepped up my game and spent about two hours a day practicing and working out in the gym to help keep me in shape.
“Before every set, I planned out how I could win points and I stuck with it. If it worked, it worked. If it didn’t, then I would just try something else.”
More often than not, Henry had little difficulty picking up points and finishing his sets in less than an hour.
Henry didn’t lose any games in Burroughs’ 16-2 first-round playoff victory against visiting Bonita on May 12.
“A lot of thought goes into the strategy that you are going to play,” said Henry, who teamed with Campbell last season to??? advance to the Round of 16 at the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament at Seal Beach Tennis Center. “You have to do a lot of thinking and you have to stay calm and interested because once you lose ???your cool, then you are done.”
Henry’s best work this season came during league competition.
For example, in two meets against cross-town rival Burbank, Henry didn’t lose a game in notching six victories. The Indians swept the two-match season series against the Bulldogs.
“You can see how he’s a smart player,” Phan said. “He plays well enough to win.
Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said Henry’s court management provides him with an advantage while lining up to face opponents.
“He’s clearly was the best player in the league, and he’s got a great game,” Hoppe said. “His game management and shot selection win it for him.
“He plays a good psychological game with his opponents. He can get them angry and frustrated. He just presents a lot of problems, physically.”
Henry said he didn’t do anything special that led to him enjoying a banner season for the Indians.
“The more you practice, the better off you can be,” Henry said. “It was a goal of mine before the season to win league in singles.