Tigers Tennis has the Winning Formula


Graphic by Rachel Becker

Warrensburg High School Boys Tennis are the reigning Missouri Class 1 state champions and looking to defend their title. Led by seniors Qi Huang, Cameron King and Brandon Ward, the 2022 champions consistently run their opposition ragged.

  Yet if you were to drive by the high school when they have a match, you probably wouldn’t realize they were competing. For someone used to the huge, noisy, and boisterous crowds the football team regularly attracts, the crowd filling the tennis court’s seating may seem underwhelming and silent in comparison. Were it not for a sign on the court’s chain link fence, you would have no idea that they were last year’s champions. The courts are practically silent except for the subtle thud of rackets connecting with balls and the occasional clapping or shouts of a good hit. 

  The team does not act as if they are something special either. In between matches, they wander the crowd, often interacting with those present. Ask one about how scoring works, and they will gladly sit down and explain it to you. Yet under this veneer of unprofessionalism lies a combination of chemistry, motivation and a love of the game that makes up a champion.        

  Chemistry is the first part of the equation. Despite the individual element that is integral to the sport of tennis, the tennis players are among the tightest groups you will see around school. Before each match, the team gets together to chant a chant that one of their own players created. After a match, most team members will stay to cheer on their teammates. The seniors lead with many asking the JV how they did or cheering them on. The underclassmen then reciprocate this back to the seniors. 

  Motivation is the second part of the equation. Many of these players are self-motivated. The most common thing coach Maple told his players was a variation of calm down. One player, when I asked how he performed, told me he did not play well. He won eight of 11 solo games. Most players would take that happily, however, this player is too driven to accept that. This attitude can be seen in the team’s views on the season too. Huang said, “We should repeat the title run.”  Most other team members have said the same. This is a team that is motivated to improve and motivated to win.

  The final part of the championship winning formula is love of the game. The best players in Warrensburg’s team have made tennis a key part of their life. Huang for example plays in tournaments year round. If you sit down to discuss tennis with Huang, expect a long conversation. Many matches require these students to miss school multiple times a week, yet they do it gladly out of love of tennis.

  So that is the formula, and it works. To see that you need only look at the team’s results. Of their six matches this year, the tennis team has won four 9-0 and two 8-1. They do it not through fancy moves but through fundamentals and thinking. On this, Huang said, “Mentality is 70% of tennis.”

   This is a mindset clearly seen by this team all the way through to the coaching. Coach Maple almost never yells at his players correcting them by simply softly offering a correction or observation and or calling them over to have a quiet talk. It keeps his players calm while still fixing the mistakes in a way only truly excellent coaches can, and there is no doubt that Coach Maple is an excellent coach.