Break point

Nicholas Mercer
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2012 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games host tennis team ready to play

The 2012 NL Summer Games tennis club did not have to undergo any cuts before it began preparing for the competition. Members of the team are: front (l-r) - coach Taylor Anderson, Brianne Chafe, Erin Jones, Paige Coombs, Courtney Coombs, Megan Thomey and coach Peter George; back - Adam Slade, Adam Jones, Greg Donnelly and Zach Quinlan.

The 2012 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games host tennis team has had more time than some of their host team peers to prepare when everything kicks off Aug. 18 at the Aero Tennis Courts in Harbour Grace.

That is because the coaching staff responsible for the team did not have to make any cuts.

This allowed them to begin work on preparing for the Games right from the outset instead of going through a selection process.

"There were just enough players who showed up," said coach Peter George. "We had four female and four male players."

George said the team was picked after the first day.

"We're lucky we had enough players show up," said the coach. "As you know, there are teams who are struggling with that."

It's true.

Some of the host teams have experienced a shortage of athletes, which has seen organizers push the regional boundaries and even allow for two-sport athletes, to help compensate.

While there were no players to cut and that could be viewed as a negative, George sees the positive behind it.

It allows for the team to begin practicing as a cohesive unit from the second practice up until the first match on Aug. 18.

"We're lucky in that regard," he said.

Familiarity breeds success

Any team can find success if the players have a sense of familiarity with each other.

"They all know each other and from what I can tell they've been having fun," said George. "Which is what the Games are all about."

Watching the team practice, you can tell each player is familiar with each other.

There are jokes during warm ups, each chatting as if the person next to them is one of their closest friends.

But, when it's time for a serious run through, it is still possible to see the chemistry between players.

George said each of his players has a history with the sport.

"They all grew up playing tennis and around the court," he said.

The coach said Harbour Grace has one of the strongest tennis programs, and the players have benefitted from that.

"I think we have a great squad," he said.

Lending experience

George has experience in two previous NL Games, one as a player in 2000 and one as a coach in 2004,as well as representing the province at the Canada Summer Games in tennis, so he has a vast amount of tennis knowledge to pass on to his team.

He said he expects the traditional tennis powers in the province to bring strong clubs to the Games.

"They were strong in past Games and I expect the same thing for these Games," said George.

The coach is making sure to pass on all of his Games experiences onto his young team.

Tennis is normally an individual sport, but for the Games, it morphs into a team sport.

It's something George is preparing his team for.

Each player must depend on their teammates to pull the team onto the podium.

"Everyone really needs to pull their weight in this competition," he said.

George said the message behind the Games is too have fun with your respective sport.

"That's the main goal and the goal of the Games," he said. "If we medal, that would be great."

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

Organizations: Aero Tennis Courts

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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