STRASBURG TENNIS3

Jack Miller hits a backhand shot during the first day of practice for Strasburg High School’s boys tennis team in February at the Strasburg Town Park. Miller and Aidan Keller were the only two seniors for the first-year program. 

The Strasburg's boys tennis program held it's first-ever preseason this year and seniors Aidan Keller and Jack Miller played a key role in getting things off the ground.

The Rams didn't get to have a first season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but for Keller and Miller they said it was still great seeing those first Strasburg boys tennis practices take place.

"It was really good to see us be able to come together and start practicing together," Keller said. "There was a lot of them that I hadn't been able to see play before and it kind of planted the seeds for the program and the future."

Keller said it's a good feeling knowing that he was part of history and he helped in the startup of the program.

"This being my senior year I won't be able to play again," Keller said. "So it's kind of like leaving a little something left behind that I kind of helped start and get going. It's just kind of a nice little thing to look back on."

Keller, Miller and junior Nick Lear had been playing tennis together for the last few years despite a lack of a tennis program at the school.

The trio helped lead the way for the program this season and Miller said that even though they only practiced for three weeks he saw a lot of improvement from the younger players who were new to the sport.

Keller said he first played tennis with his dad five or six years ago, but it wasn't until Keller  started playing with Lear and Miller that he began taking it seriously.

The trio began playing together and formed a friendship that has grown from the sport. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Keller said the three friends are still getting together and playing tennis.

"We all just kind of realized one summer that we had this mutual love for tennis and we decided to meet up and start playing," Keller said. "It's really served as a really awesome activity for us to get together. Even in the time we're in right now, we drive separately to the tennis courts and use the social distancing policies and we still play tennis at the park. It's really interesting because even now it's served as a way for us to bond and to get together and hang out. It's been a really unifying factor."

Strasburg coach Ken Jaeger said that Keller's dedication has helped him improve his game.

"Aidan took it very seriously," Jaeger said. "He even practiced outside of practice and he was a very dedicated tennis player. I wish he could have played during his senior year because he would have been a great asset to our team."

Miller said one of the things he enjoyed about the practices the Rams had was being able to interact with the other players.

"Just getting to work with different people every practice was nice," Miller said. "Just playing with different doubles teams like maybe one day I'm with Nick (Lear), one day I'm with someone else. I think coach Jaeger did a good job of getting us to interact and work with each of our teammates and doing a bunch of different practices and drills. Getting us to all work with each other and having a unified mindset for the matches that we would have had coming up."

Jaeger said that Miller was a good leader for the team.

"Jack was one of our captains and he took it very seriously," Jaeger said. "He was in charge of leading the other players into their success as well."

Miller, who said his favorite sport is swimming, said he could see himself playing tennis for the rest of his life.

"I think it's possible I'll play for the rest of my life," Miller said. "Maybe down the road when I'm older, possibly if I have kids or something I'll introduce them to all different types of sports. I think tennis is just a really good bonding sport. You can make friends playing it. I can see this being a lifelong activity for me, definitely."

Keller said that he plans to attend Bridgewater College in the fall, and he's hoping to continue playing tennis intramurals in college.

"Tennis has been a real source of friendships for me," he said. "So one of the first things I want to do when I get to Bridgewater is look for some intramural tennis teams and start connecting with other people and making some friendships around that."

Miller, who participated in many different sports at Strasburg, said he plans to attend the University of Virginia and said he also might play intramural tennis there as well.

Miller said that looking back on his high school career he feels like he learned a lot from playing sports.

"I think one thing I can take away from sports is it takes a long time to get good at something," he said. "My sophomore year in swim I was terrible, and now this year I placed fourth place with my relay at states. Then also in tennis, last summer I was terrible. I couldn't hit a correct serve or anything like that. Now I was captain of the tennis team. It's really cool to see my practice and progress and that transcends past sports really all throughout life. It just takes time."

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com