Brighton tennis looking to succeed with young team
The Brighton tennis team poses for a team photo. (Natalie Meyer/Brighton High School)
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Brighton’s tennis coach Natalie Meyer can’t remember a time when her team wasn’t winning early in the season, but this season they’re sitting at two wins and two losses.
Brighton lost all but two members of last year’s varsity team to graduation, and the two who didn’t graduate were brothers who moved when their father was called to be an LDS mission president.
“So we’ve got some seniors in JV that moved up and we’ve also got some new ones that have come in and taken some of the spots,” Meyer said. “They’re good. They’re working hard. I took 30 this year, which is more than I usually take, but they’re just young and hungry to play tennis.”
The team is heavy with freshmen, including their number one player Redd Owen, who has played in a few national tournaments and whose father played tennis for the University of Utah.
Owen broke his hand the day before tryouts and missed the first two games.
“He’s back going full force, so we’re excited to play everyone again with him, ” Meyer said. “The boys have risen to the challenge — they’ve been great.”
Meyer said the team has worked hard to be competitive despite their setbacks.
“This one (kid) was injured and we always knew he was pretty good and I had high hopes for all the other freshman, but they’re all pretty steady,” said Josh Bunker, a senior captain. “Like one of them is playing above me in doubles, which is pretty good and, yeah, they’re just solid so I’m pretty stoked.”
Braxton Pardoe, the other senior captain, said that though this year’s team is young, it’s deep and competitive.
“I feel like this year, we have a much younger team than everybody else because we lost a lot of seniors last year, but I feel like everybody coming up being so young will make us super good in the future,” Pardoe said.
Meyer said the losses have helped her team learn some new lessons.
“We’ve taken some losses this time so that’s been a whole new challenge for us,” Meyer said. “To have to come off and say, ‘All right, we’ve lost, what do we do now? How do we get better? How do we improve? What can we do better against this team the next time around? It puts us in a little bit different position than we’ve been in before.”
Meyer said her team may be different from others because they practice six days a week and many of her players take private tennis lessons.
Meyer has been around tennis her entire life and has been coaching since she was 16. She took state all four years she played tennis at Brighton and played at the University of Utah.
Meyer started teaching at Brighton 27 years ago, but wasn’t made head tennis coach until 14 years later.
Meyer’s family is a tennis family, and they were constantly involved in tennis when she was growing up, whether that was by helping with tennis tournaments, her dad volunteering as a linesmen, or her brother working at a tennis shop.
Meyer said her team has a special kind of chemistry.
“I’m just really proud of them,” Meyer said. “They’re really great young men. They’re gentlemen on and off the court. This team was kind of a mix of half new and half returning and they have meshed and become friends so quickly. There’s a great team camaraderie within this group that I’ve got.”