This has been an historic year for the Seattle Academy boys’ varsity tennis team. A fairly young program at Seattle Academy, the team had a stellar season finishing with a record of 11-1 and winning the Emerald City League for the first time in the program’s history. The tennis team also beat UPrep for the first time ever. In the Emerald City League bi-district tournament the dynamic duo of Connor Rice ‘15 and Charlie Phelps ’15 placed third; Zamir Birnbach ’16 placed second in the singles competition; and Will Owen ’17 placed third. They now wait for allocation numbers in March to see who will play in the state tournament in May.
The boys’ tennis team is coached by Barton Truscott, who also teaches American History and Economics at SAAS. Barton said he has been coaching at SAAS for four or five years. Before SAAS he coached at Charles Wright Academy and Cate School in California. Barton’s favorite part of coaching tennis at SAAS is playing with some great players. His favorite moment from this season was when the team clinched the Emerald City League title.
Charlie Phelps stated that “Barton is a really competitive coach with a high ability in the sport. This allows for a culture of high performance and competition, which I think are fundamental to long term success through the season and postseason.” Barton has excelled at building the tennis program to a point where they are competing at the highest level every season.
This was the most successful season in the program’s history. Connor Rice discussed his thoughts on his senior season: “As far as pure wins and losses are concerned the season went quite well, we were 11-1, [with a] close loss to UPrep, and won the league title for the first time in program history. Team chemistry was also great; I can honestly say that I've never been a part of a closer team in terms of friendships, and being invested in each other's results. It's easy to get too isolated when you play tennis because it's always either you or you and your partner on the court, but I always felt that the team truly cared about each other and were highly supportive throughout the season.”
When asked about his favorite moment playing SAAS tennis, Connor said, "Two moments stick out in my mind, the first win that Charlie and I got against UPrep's best doubles team (7-5 7-5) was awesome because it was the first time I felt like we truly performed at our highest potential for an entire match. There were fits and starts, but we were able to put it together in an emotionally charged and competitive match against a great team that happens to be a big rival. This was the same match in which SAAS beat UPrep for the first time in the history of our school. [It was] one of the most rewarding wins of my career for sure.
"My second moment was actually a loss against Phillip and Teddy Grenley (Charles Wright Academy) last year in the semis of state (also 7-5 7-5 ironically). The Grenleys have now won state 3 years in a row and are vying to become the state's first four-year tennis champions this year. I enjoyed it because we were highly competitive with them and it was just a really fun match to play, we (Charlie and I) played well and almost knocked off a team that everyone expected to win easily.
I also can't say enough about how great of a partner Charlie has been this entire season, going beyond his obvious talents as a tennis player he has brought a level of poise and strategic awareness that I'm not used to playing with. He's kept me grounded during some of the more emotional moments of the season and has helped me to develop as a doubles player. I know we're both very hungry to take home a state title after last year's results."
Playing sports at SAAS is one of the best opportunities to have a meaningful experience and make new friends. Zamir Birnbach said that being on the tennis team meant a lot to him and that “tennis is commonly thought of as an individual sport, and being a part of a team while playing individually is really cool because you can count on yourself, but you can also rely on the team when you have the strong sense of community that being on a team will get you.”
Zamir described his coach Barton Truscott as a “great man,” in an interview with Megan Barwick 15’ for the Meet the Cardinals video series, and went on to say that Barton has an interesting coaching idiosyncrasy where if a player can beat him, he will buy that player lunch. Zamir said his favorite moment this season was when the team beat UPrep for the first time in the program’s history.
The tennis team now prepares for the state tournament that will take place next spring. Charlie Phelps gave his thoughts on his and his partner Connor Rice’s chances in the upcoming state tournament. “I feel that [Connor and I] are focused on a championship and nothing else. After getting so close last year and not being able to make it to the final, we are really hungry and ready to go farther this year. Connor’s been a really good partner, and has more passion and hunger than most athletes in the sport. I’m really lucky to have a guy like that as my partner. In short, we want first place and nothing else. We have a unique amount of talent on the team this year and we are ready to capitalize and take home a title for SAAS.”