Parents help tennis program succeed

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There is definitely a stigma towards parents in high school sports. Steele Canyon high school’s tennis program defies it. 

With a ‘no-cut’ policy that gave the team 52 players this year, the Cougars depend on their parent volunteers to help coach. 

Head coach Jerry Segawa said the parents have attributed both to the performance and the culture of the program. 

There is definitely a stigma towards parents in high school sports. Steele Canyon high school’s tennis program defies it. 

With a ‘no-cut’ policy that gave the team 52 players this year, the Cougars depend on their parent volunteers to help coach. 

Head coach Jerry Segawa said the parents have attributed both to the performance and the culture of the program. 

“It definitely helps,” he said. “Not only because of having extra bodies to help coach, but it shows the girls that their parent cares for the program and is there to help.”

This year, they have three parent coaches, Tim King, Scott Spurgeon and Charlie Hoffman. 

Spurgeon, who has two daughters in the program, said having a few extra coaches on board allows Segawa to focus his attention where it is needed without abandoning the myriad of players coming out to learn tennis.

“Jerry has his hands full,” said Spurgeon. “It’s a lot of babysitting when you have fifty kids. A lot of kids come in without any tennis experience because we don’t cut anyone.”

But, the volunteer coach said, the no-cut policy is actually one of the nicer features of the program.

“I’d rather have kids out playing tennis, doing something actually athletic, than on their phones,” he said. “And some kids who have never played end up becoming really good players.”

Spurgeon’s two daughters, Holly and Cat, are such examples. Holly tried out for cheer as a freshman, but after getting kicked in the face, decided it was not for her. She found tennis and her younger sister, followed suit. Both girls are taking lessons and rising in the ranks of Steele Canyon’s program. 

And Steele Canyon is quite the powerhouse. For years, their program has produced CIF-quality players, like last year’s Jordan Blinn, and has been a contender for league and CIF titles.

This year, Steele Canyon lost only one league match, dropping to Helix in Round One of the season. In the league championship tournament, the Cougars claimed 3rd and 4th in singles and 2nd and 3rd in doubles.

Segawa said the secret to the team’s long-standing success — this year they are 10-1 for the season and 9-1 in league — is the parent participation. Parent coaches bring a slightly different quality to the team, he said.

“I think the coaches that are parents or that have their child in the high school program or level can relate a little bit better than say a coach who has no children or has children that graduated moons ago, so they may not be aware of how high school students are,” said Segawa.

Cat Spurgeon agreed.

“It’s easier to play with them there,” she said. “They’re friendlier, they ask about our day.”

Cat and Scott Spurgeon both said they enjoy the parent-child dynamic on the court, even if Cat’s self-admittedly snarkiness might suggest otherwise.

“I really like [that he is there],” she said. “I feel like I play better when he’s out there.”