Fairy-tale season for Skyline boys tennis, historical school success
Jun 19, 2017 02:33PM ● Published by Kelly Cannon
The Skyline boys tennis team went 30-0 in the regular season en route to the state championship. (Skyline Tennis)
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In the future, when Head Coach Lani Wilcox reminisces on the Skyline boys tennis undefeated regular season and state championship this year, she will always think of it the same way.
“It was one of those fairy-tale seasons,” Wilcox said.
On a senior-heavy team, the team saw this as a last opportunity to do something great.
“Five of my seven players are seniors, so it was now or never. We were pretty sure we would give Timpview a run for their money in state, but instead we had a perfect fairy-tale season. Everyone played so well,” said Wilcox.
The team went 30-0 for the regular season, and didn’t drop a single set. In state, their first doubles lost in the semis, and their second doubles lost in the finals, but the team had multiple singles players crowned state champs.
Wilcox herself had won two state championships with the Judge Memorial High School girls tennis in her high school days. She has two sons on the team, the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds, and both take after their mother in terms of success, going undefeated in the state tournament to bring home the title.
“My youngest plays No. 1 and my oldest plays No. 3. After No. 1 beat Timpview in the finals, we had clinched state. No. 3 was playing after, but I told everyone, ‘Don’t tell him yet,’ so he could focus on his own game!” Wilcox said.
The familial ties don’t stop there, though. Assistant Coach Laura Hammill’s son plays No. 2 on the team, and Laura’s father, John Hammill, also helps the team with his expert opinion as well. John coached tennis at the University of Miami for 18 years.
“I am the unofficial assistant coach,” John quipped. “I worked with the team during practices, but I couldn’t during matches. So I passed advice through Laura and Lani, and they relayed it to the players. It was great, especially being able to see my grandson play.”
With this being Wilcox’s third year coaching, finishing either third or fourth her first couple of years, her coaching philosophy has supported this magical run of success. “I want these kids to love tennis, to get better, but most importantly, have fun doing it.”
The mindset of the team and the quality of the coaches helped them to the school’s 100th state championship, although the Skyline swim team (who also won state this year around the same time) might have something to say about snatching the 101th.
Wilcox is aware of the long road ahead after losing a bulk of her team to graduation.
“Next year will be a rebuilding year for sure. For the summer, our plan is to work really hard with our JV players to make them year-round players, instead of only playing during the season. I really want to light a fire under the kids,” said Wilcox.
While another undefeated fairy-tale season seems a bit out of reach, with a dedicated coaching philosophy, as well being surrounded by caring and knowledgeable colleagues, Wilcox might be able to still do some more damage with the Skyline boys tennis team in the future.