Seymour girls tennis head coach Sharon Wood took a day trip to Bloomington last Saturday with her husband, assistant girls tennis coach Bob Wood.
The two decided to stop at Bloomington High School South, where there were 15 representatives from Seymour competing in a U.S. Tennis Association tournament.
Coaches aren’t allowed to actually coach their players during these USTA-sanctioned events, so it was odd for Wood to silently sit there and watch her players play as a fan.
“It was hard on me, on both on Bob and I," Wood said. "We were really happy that they were in control of their match, but you just wanted to go run up to that fence and give them encouragement or give them a tip."
But as Wood said, she was very pleased with how everyone was playing. Six of the 15 Owls competing ended up placing in their bracket.
Claire Combs and Emma Woodard played doubles together, and they won the 14U doubles bracket. Lane Woodard also was there, but he didn’t have a doubles partner, so he randomly joined a kid from Jasper, and the duo wound up placing second in the 14U doubles bracket.
The No. 1 singles player for the Owls’ varsity team this year and The Tribune’s Girls Tennis Player of the Year, Brooke Schafstall, was in attendance, as well. She teamed up with Jessica Hougland, and the tandem won the 16U doubles bracket.
The lone singles player to place for Seymour was eighth-grader Shun Takeuchi, who took second place in the 14U singles bracket.
“They played great," Wood said. "The key factor for us is we’ve been preaching to our kids for years is that you can improve in tennis, the opportunities are there, but you and your families have to make the commitment to do the tournaments.”
Of the 15 Seymour representatives in Bloomington on Saturday, 10 of them were experiencing their first USTA tournament.
With no coaching, a lot of the players had to figure things out on their own, too.
“You’re the ref. You’re the coach. You’re the player," Wood said. "You have to self-analyze and self-reflect during the match."
This USTA event came one day after Seymour wrapped up its record-breaking five-day tennis camp at the high school last week.
More than 80 kids showed out last week to attend the camp run by Wood and boys tennis head coach Brandon Davis.
Wood called it "tennis fever," and now, that is extending outside the high school camp. There was a wide variety of participants from Seymour last Saturday with the youngest age being 12 and the oldest being 18.
"The team camaraderie, even though they aren’t all on the high school team, just for the town of Seymour, Seymour tennis, it was great seeing them interact with each other," Wood said.
Wood believes it was a big step for the Seymour tennis program to have a growing amount of kids start to work on their game outside of a camp or scheduled practice setting.
She knows from experience with her own daughter that these types of tournaments can help a player improve and just see other types of styles and competitors, like how Lane Woodard teamed up with a kid from Jasper without ever playing together and the two performed well as a team.
The mindset is starting to flip from just thinking about doing something to actually going out and doing it.
"We see our tennis players now really start to improve," Wood said. "Instead of thinking of going to a tournament or going to get some lessons, they are now doing them. It just makes me overjoyed as a coach."