Last spring they played a JV schedule
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Mark your calendars: The first varsity tennis match in the 89-year history of Brentwood High School will be March 29 at Metro High School in St. Louis city.
The BHS tennis program actually began last spring but it was considered a trial season and they played only junior varsity opponents. This is the first year they’ll face varsity players.
Though Brentwood is the smallest school on its schedule, it already offers two boys sports and two girls sports in the spring, so far it appears that the sport is a good fit for the school. Twenty-one students came out for the team last year and it’s around 20 this spring.
“It’s a sport that’s fun for everyone, whether you’ve been playing all your life or just starting to play,” said senior Alex Riedel. “It’s not very easy to master, but just to start playing it’s easy.”
Said head coach Jeff Heinrich, “At least two-thirds of our players are out for tennis for the first time. The kids realize it’s an early part of the program so we’re not as competitive. The pressure to be perfect isn’t there.”
In Missouri the girls tennis season is in the fall and the boys play in the spring. The district chose to field a coed team in the spring because there are already three girls sports in the fall. Last year five girls played and this year it’s three.
The Eagles practice daily on Tilles Park’s four courts. The two-court facility at Brentwood’s Memorial Park is not big enough for practice or meets.
“A meet has six singles matches and three doubles, which would take forever on two courts,” said Heinrich.
However, BHS cannot schedule any home meets at Tilles Park because St. Louis County does not allow courts to be reserved.
Heinrich and assistant coach Kelly Javier must rank their players once a week to determine placement in meets.
The Eagles are led by a large group of seniors: Alex Smoller, Justin Redfering, Jesse Laseter, Alex Riedel, Abby Lawrence, Noah Lee and Mitch Bender. It was Lee, Smoller and Riedel who first lobbied the school to start tennis. Smoller has been playing since he was 5 and attended summer tennis camps with Lee. Now he’s shooting high.
“This year I’m hoping to go to state,” Smoller said. “I don’t know who my competition is yet, but I hope to go far.”
Juniors on the team are Jake Burkhardt and Brett Easley.
Sophomores are Luis Del Castillo, Sean Reilly, William Barkofske, Mahoto Sasaki, Jenny Laseter and Ailyn Tran.
The lone freshman is Hunter Brown-Scott.
Said Riedel, “We’re excited to have some underclassmen this year, so we know the team will keep playing after we graduate.”
Heinrich was a student at St. Mary’s High School when tennis was started there, and he played two years.
“The thing I love about tennis and getting these kids out here is that it’s a lifelong sport,” he said. “The fact that these kids enjoy playing it, hopefully they’ll play through college with their friends, and if they get married maybe they’ll play with their spouse and play on vacations. You only need two people to play.”
2016 Tennis Schedule
3/29 at Metro, 4 p.m.
4/1 at Chaminade, 4 p.m.
4/5 at Liberty Wentzville, 4 p.m.
4/13 at Cleveland NJROTC, 4 p.m. 299
4/18 at Lutheran St. Peters, 4 p.m.
4/20 at McCluer, 3:30 p.m.
4/22 at Kennedy, 4:15 p.m.
4/27 at Chaminade, 4 p.m.
4/29 at University City, 4 p.m.
5/2 at Bishop DuBourg, 4 p.m.
5/6 at Whitfield, 4:15 p.m.
5/9 at Clayton for Class 1, District 4 playoffs