Competition is a theme of every single aspect of the Newport Knights boys tennis team’s practice sessions.
Newport head coach Ron Coleman said he focuses intently on creating an environment where each and every player is competing on a constant basis.
“We have a lot of fun doing that. Everything we do in practice counts. We keep score in everything that we do and love having a competitive environment,” Coleman said.
Knights’ team captains Travis Kayahara and Alex Namba set the tone for the Knights on the court. The junior team captains, who play both in singles and doubles matches, want to see their team win its fourth consecutive state championship this season. Namba has advanced to the Class 4A state tournament as an individual the past two seasons.
“We have done it three times in a row (state titles). That is impressive for any school in any sport,” Namba said. “I love playing for this school and this team. It’s just great.”
Kayahara concurred with Namba’s sentiment.
“We just want win the title for the fourth year in a row. There is a little bit of pressure but you have to make it through the (regular) season first before your make plans for state,” Kayahara said.
Coleman said Knights’ entire roster follows the lead of Namba and Kayahara on and off the court.
“They both have a great work ethic and are very dedicated hard workers,” Coleman said of his two team captains. “They both enjoy mentoring the younger players on the team and have a lot of experience. I’m pretty lucky having these guys on the team. They play year around tennis. That is one of the keys to success. You have to play year-around if you’re going to be successful at this sport.”
Namba said he was originally interested in baseball as a youth before making the permanent switch to tennis.
“My brother and I really liked baseball early on. My dad played tennis in high school at Interlake High School and suggested that we try tennis. That was five and a half years ago. One year after I started playing tennis I quit baseball,” Namba said. “My serve and my volleys are my best strength I’m pretty good at short and fast points.”
Kayahara said the Knights tennis program has been a major part of his life since his childhood.
“I watched all of the Newport matches growing up. My older brother and older sister both played tennis at Newport and both of them were team captains. I have played for the past seven years and my family has always played tennis,” Kayahara said.
Being a team captain is something Kayahara takes seriously.
“Being the team captain doesn’t mean you’re the best, it means that you get to support others and encourage them to play well. It’s nice to just motivate the guys on the team and support them,” he said.
Shaun Scott: 425-453-5045 firstname.lastname@example.org