Fencers take up the racquet for Griswold boys' tennis team

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Fri., May. 24, 2013
Griswold's Ryan Miller takes a swing at the ball as his doubles partner, Brandon Dufour, watches. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Griswold's Ryan Miller takes a swing at the ball as his doubles partner, Brandon Dufour, watches. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

It might be hard to recognize the Griswold fencers without their full-face protective gear, wearing t-shirts and shorts instead of knickers and lamé vests. But plenty of this winter’s fencers made the transition from foils to racquets and went out for the Wolverine tennis squad, which recently wrapped up its season.

“A lot of the tennis team members are my fencers,” said boys’ head coach Derek Schlender. He came on board when his players approached him with the news that their tennis team needed a coach. “I already had my paperwork,” he said.

Schlender, who assists his father, Daryl Schlender, in coaching the Wolverine fencing squad during the winter, is new to coaching tennis. It’s been a learning process for him, getting acclimated to the restrictions on coaching from the sidelines. “It’s been a season for their and my own edification,” he said. “It’s been a real fast season. “We have four games this week and 16 games in a six-week time span – and one of those weeks was vacation.”

The elder Schlender coached the girls’ tennis squad.

The boys’ team featured three returning players: senior and number one singles player Reuben Garcia; second singles player Frank Rivera, a junior; and sophomore Nathan Restor, who plays third singles. The Wolverines also fielded three doubles teams: Quinton Arsenault and Noah Higgins; Curtis Dupont and Sam Guillemette; and Ryan Miller and Brandon Dufour, the team’s other senior.

Since the roster stood at nine players, Schlender’s squad was one man short of a full team. ‎”You need 10 [players] to be competitive, so we start out minus one,” he said. “But it‘s great that the kids decided to go out and do something different [from fencing] in the spring. It certainly does help out with conditioning.”

The mechanics of tennis certainly differs from fencing, and Schlender said he did plenty of research to prepare for the season. Most of that, he said, dealt with the kinesthetics of the sport, especially body form and placement. From his knowledge of his fencers, “I knew sportsmanship was not going to be an issue.” The veteran players, especially Garcia and Rivera, have helped him expand his understanding “in a big way.”

Schlender said he’s hoping that interest in tennis builds for next season, whether among the fencers or other student athletes. “It would be nice to get a little more depth and get one or two JV teams,” he said.

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