2017 Boys Tennis Coach of the Year: Robinson pleased with Falcons’ finish
WOODSTOCK — The start of the season wasn’t what Central boys tennis coach Luke Robinson was hoping for, but the finish couldn’t have been much better.
Central started the season 2-9 in part due to having several top players out with injuries and vacation. The Falcons bounced back strong in the second half of the season, winning five of their last six matches, and finishing 7-10 on the season.
“For the season as a whole, I was happy,” Robinson said. “I hate to lose. I just hate to lose, so it was rough for me at the beginning. But I was talking to them every day. My usual pep talk is, ‘I’m not a quitter. We’re going to fight this out and it might not show on the record, but at least we’re going to go down fighting.’ And that’s what I always want. And they kind of bought into that, and they really started trying.”
Robinson, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2017 Boys Tennis Coach of the Year, said that he had had a very young team to begin with and things became tougher when No. 1 singles player Matt Bromley suffered an injury.
Bromley, a senior, suffered an eye injury at school and was out for part of the season. On top of that, Central’s No. 2 singles player Josh Sherman missed some time due to a family vacation.
Robinson said he substituted a couple players outside of the Top 6 in their place, which made it tough to win matches.
He said the biggest challenge was just keeping his younger players positive.
Robinson said the new players to the team, some of whom had never played tennis in their life, picked things up quickly.
“I had some players that were willing to stay after practices and stayed late a couple times,” Robinson said. “And they really did get better.”
Things took a big step forward once Bromley was able to return in April. The Falcons began to win some matches, and Robinson said he saw a difference in attitudes.
“We started winning a couple matches, then the guys started getting a taste of that,” Robinson said. “And it was a totally different practice, a totally different atmosphere. They were wanting to practice longer. They were wanting to hit more balls, which is great.”
The Falcons finished the regular season with some strong momentum and then beat Clarke County in the Conference 35 tournament semifinals. They lost to Group 2A powerhouse George Mason in the final, but Robinson said he was pleased with how his team played to end the season.
He said freshman Chase Rimel showed a lot of improvement from the start of the season to the finish and played at No. 5 and 6 singles for the team this year.
“He plays with his dad every now and then, but he never really played,” Robinson said of Rimel. “And he’s a lefty, which I love. He’s very teachable and anything I teach him I see him out there trying it and trying to get better.”
Bromley, Sherman and Will Lam (No. 3 singles) are the only three seniors on the squad, and Robinson said they were a great group to have to lead the squad.
“They’re all natural leaders,” Robinson said. “I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re great leaders.”
Robinson said that he was excited for the future of the program. The Falcons could have eight players returning from this year’s team with at least a year of experience under their belts.
“I’m trying to keep the program going strong and there’s guys that are excited,” Robinson said. “My guys that had never played before they weren’t great but they loved it. They were the first ones here. And at the end of practice they’re like ‘coach, practice is over’? And they want to play more and I love that. And even if we’re not winning, but they’re excited — that’s half the battle.”