Varsity Kansas

High school offseason: Q&A with Maize coach John Anderson

High school offseason: Q&A with Maize's John AndersonA weekly question-and-answer session during the summer with an area high school coach. Today: Maize tennis coach John Anderson

How much offseason work do you do with your teams?"Several years ago we started team tennis with (then Goddard coach) John Markham. The first year we did it with McPherson and Salina, and it got too burdensome.(Markham and Anderson) "ate breakfast one morning and 'what could be fun that's not so demanding?' We started our Davis Cup, where we have two nights a week where we open (the courts) up to the kids. The first year it was Goddard and Maize. This year, Goddard, Maize, Derby, Conway Springs."You come and play three matches, a singles, a doubles and a mixed doubles."This is the third year of it. I just finished it (the last week of June). It's really enjoyable. It's girls and guys, so it's kind of a social deal."Tennis is a periphery spot, so we have to treat it like that. There's a lot of (United States Tennis Association) tournaments), too."We averaged 50-65 kids every night. I watch these kids enjoying tennis. I used to coach high school basketball way back, but it's all different now. It's so demanding. I think the coaches, I hang out with the coaches, and they kind of own the kids anymore. Kids are losing their summers, I think."

What do you think about the Kansas State High School Activities Association allowing more time for coaches to work with players in the summer?"You could own (players) from Memorial Day to the middle of July, and school starts the first part of August, anymore."æ.æ.æ. It's competitive and they all want to be the best. There's a downside, and I think five, seven years from now, we'll look back and say, 'let's rethink it.'æ"

Did you do anything differently with your teams when the KSHSAA rules changed?"I never did. At the end of the school year, I hand out a list of tournaments that the USTA does. I used to run tournaments at Maize, but I stopped doing them because I got too busy."With our Davis Cup, we expose more kids to it and they have fun. Our top players don't do it as much. They're playing in futures tournaments. This is the medium-level player that wants to get better, get more match play in, if they don't play doubles, make them play doubles."I used to do team camps for a week (in the summer), and that's when the basketball started, so we were competing with kids for basketball and softball. Tennis is a periphery sport, and if I try to compete, I'll lose. Parents want them in baseball, softball."I backed off, and I ended up getting more kids interested."

Kids seem so busy with sports now."It's a train you get on and where do you get off? You almost have to humble yourself — I don't care if my kid will be the best. I have five years until I can retire. If I was 10 years younger, my perspective might be different. As I get older, I have more vision."æ.æ.æ. Eleven or 12, that seems to be an age, where, how much do they want it, where's their passion for it? I know some kids that live or die for a certain sport. We all have passions; that's good."

How does your girls team look heading into the fall?"We have five of our six back. We have a good team coming back. From a team standpoint, we need one more player to step and maybe some younger players could develop into a doubles team and strengthen our depth. We have a good group of top kids. I'm really optimistic for the girls."Tiffany Khounsombath is a three-year qualifier. She's our top player and has finished top 10 (in Class 6A) in singles and doubles."I have two doubles teams that qualified — Anna Friesen and Kari Rezac and Paige Lungwitz and Jessi Holman."

Has it been tough losing a close friend in former Goddard tennis coach John Markham, who died last fall?"I talked to the Goddard coach (Dan Buchanan) a lot. There's a void there. (Markham was) a guy who contributed. You go to a tournament and look at other coaches, you feel a void. But it's good memories."