Saturday, February 04, 2023


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Sports Article
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Boys Tennis Having a Make-Do Season
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent

Upper Perks Justin Weber, left and Paul Chappelle, right, have been teamed up for the Indians as the first doubles team. The pair are seen in action at the cross town match against Perkiomen School on Friday. Perkiomen won the match 5-0.

        The lousy spring weather was taxing for everyone, especially the Upper Perk spring sports teams trying to prepare for their seasons in the confines of gyms, hallways and parking lots.

        At least teams could look forward to someday getting out on home fields and the track.

        Not tennis, though. With their refurbished home court still a ways from being finished, the team has been forced into a nomadic existence and make-do training sessions.

        The Tribe has been practicing at Perkiomen School and on two make-shift courts at the Educational Center when it rains.

        The number of bus trips to opponents' courts has doubled.

        In short, the pre-season is a logistical nightmare for coach John Williamson in his fifth year at the helm.

        On a good day, when the team can use the courts at the Prep, the Perkiomen players practice first. So, after the school day, the Upper Perk student-athletes have to go home and then find their way to the Prep's courts by 5:30, sometimes having to stand around if the Prep practice goes long.

        "We also have to transport equipment to every practice, which limits how much we can bring," Williamson noted. "To complicate things, the weather did not cooperate for the first four weeks of the season."

        Inclement weather means practice at the Ed Center, a skating rink in its previous life, with rows of chairs serving as the "net".

        "When we get onto a real court, we've been practicing with a lower 'net' height, so none of my serves ever go over the net," said second singles player Cooper Wright ruefully.

        And then there is the travel time once the weather lets up enough for a match to be played. Away matches, and they are all away matches this year, mean early dismissals from last period class.

        First singles Chandler Carberry misses time in his calculus class. Jimmy Souder, the third singles, leaves anatomy early. At least he can get notes from his sister.

        Compounding the drawbacks caused by lack of a home court is the greenness of the Tribe.

        The Valley is not exactly a hotbed of tennis and if any team needs extensive practice and teaching time, it is the Indians, whose players usually do not experience competitive tennis until high school.

        "We miss out on practice time that we need to further our skills," said Carberry, the lone senior starter.

        Other starters include: Justin Weber and Paul Chappelle at first doubles; Steve Christman and Austin Guess at second doubles; Evan Lutz and Jake Vogel at third doubles; Chase Pestrock and Eric Smith at fourth doubles.

        Despite all the travails and the 0-6 start to the season, morale is still high on the team.

        According to Carberry, the squad's nomadic status has bred camaraderie amongst the players, and everyone looks out for the other guy.

        "The team's attitude has been upbeat and energetic," said Williamson. "Chandler Carberry and Cooper Wright have made great improvements since last year. There has been a lot of enthusiasm from new players this year, as well."

        As the losses accumulate, coach Williamson keeps morale up by reminding the team they are in a building phase, Wright explained.

         "The team's really close-knit," he added.

        The tennis courts were torn up after numerous cracks and other structural problems made the playing surface dangerous, if not unplayable. It was hoped that reconstruction would begin as soon as the girls' season ended last fall.

        But somehow the blindingly obvious became controversial, and it took a 5-4 school board vote to finally get things moving.

        The project got underway later than hoped and then ground to a halt when the winter whiteout hit.

        Athletic Director Steve Perlstein was updated on the status of the courts on Tuesday. Still to be done: grading topsoil at the edge of the courts, applying layers to existing base surface, fence installation, net post installation, application of tennis court surfacing, painting of tennis lines, net and wind screen installation.

        In an e-mail, Perlstein reported that "anticipated construction completion, pending good weather for continued construction, will be mid-May."








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