Many parents fret and fuss over getting their youngsters into sports at the earliest possible age. The new parental mentality seems to be “the younger the better” and there is an unspoken fear that if you don’t get your kids dialed into a sport by Kindergarten, it’s going to be utterly hopeless for them to ever play in the future without complete humiliation and embarrassment. Well I’ve got good news.. Meet Julie Hansen! Black Hills High School (BHHS) Varsity Tennis Player, 5th in State, and Coach Greg Bert’s “Top Player for three years.” The kicker – she had NEVER, ever, ever —picked up a tennis racquet before her Freshman year try-outs. Let’s repeat that incase it didn’t sink in. Julie didn’t own a racquet before her Freshman year try-outs, and was 5th in state Junior year. Anyone else amazed by that factoid? So let’s met this tennis phenomenon.
Julie had always wanted to play tennis, so her Freshman year she decides to give it ago. That Spring the school had open try-outs so she showed up and made the team (they do have a “no-cut” policy for C team, so technically, everyone makes the team). She was a little nervous before the try-outs watching the other players, but she just always wanted to play, so she stuck with it. “Try-outs are a bit like organized chaos” Head BHHS Tennis Coach Greg Bert explains. “I had a strong team the year Julie tried out. I had the Seniors and Varsity players on the first courts and my assistant coach had the Freshman girls on the outer courts. I remember my assistant coach telling me that I had to take a look at Julie.”
Julie, it seems got the hang of tennis really quickly, and did well enough at the fundamentals to scrape by. She rose to the level of high JV that year and was winning matches. “I could have moved her to Varsity, but I had 12 Seniors already on the team. ” explains Coach Bert
After her Freshman year she started playing at The Valley Athletic Club every day. She came back the next year a totally different player and really impressed Coach Bert. “I was like ‘Holy Cow’ when she came back the next year. No one else on the team has her abilities.”
Besides playing for BHHS, Julie also volunteers at Coach Bert’s summer camps and works as an assistant to the tennis pro’s at The Valley Athletic Club. ” For the past three summers in a row, she has volunteered her time to help teach tennis at my summer tennis camps held in Tumwater. My camps are aimed to get our area’s youth outside to participate in tennis. We routinely receive players who have never played before, so the skill level is very basic and the ages range from 1st through 9th grade. Julie is my best teacher at the camps. She is very encouraging, patient, pleasant, and enthusiastic and can break the skills down so that young people can understand what is expected to be successful in tennis.”
Her goal for this year? To go further in state and win in the 1st bracket, and I’m sure she’ll do just that. Coach Bert describes Julie as – coachable, humble, patient, and steady. “She doesn’t let other players get to her. So many other players get frustrated by what their opponents do. She is steady, focused and unemotional on the court.” Tennis is a mental game, and many times players will let their emotions get the best of them. “I always remind myself to think of the right way to do things.”
One of the reasons Julie decided to try out for tennis is that she was burned out on playing basketball. “I had played basketball for 10 years before starting tennis, and I just didn’t really want to play basketball anymore.” She like tennis because you rely more on yourself. “I don’t ever feel like I’m letting others down and I can plan my own strategy.”
Julie is not the only one in her family that has caught tennis fever. Since Julie has started her mom is now playing tennis all the time too.
How does this dynamo do it? She’s not only an ace on the courts, but in the classroom too. She’s a 4.0 student and one of the Top 10 scholars at school. According to her, she’s got good time management. I’d say so. She’s been accepted to the University of Oregon, but is also thinking of schools in Arizona for a change in climate. Julie plans to study biology and hopes to someday work in a crime scene lab analyzing DNA. In her spare time she likes to play piano and joined an art class last year that sparked her interest.
Tennis is a lifelong sport, and Julie intends to do just that, play tennis for a long time. “Julie has been a very successful player, but she also gives back to the game by helping others to become better players and enjoy the game.” Coach Bert
It is refreshingly simple, yet unfortunately unique, for an individual of any age to just “go for it” when they have an interest in a sport. Thank you Julie for reminding us to try out new activities, we may just find one that fits us perfectly.
Julie will be hitting the courts again this Spring for her final year under Coach Bert and with BHHS. We wish you the best of luck Julie!