Though he’s only a freshman, Kody Newman knows the first day of practice drill better than most.
He’s seen five of his siblings compete for South Whidbey High School’s boys and girls tennis teams and advance to the state tournament.
So, to say Newman has a lineage to live up to is a bit of an understatement.
“Tell me about it,” Newman said while taking a break from drills on the first day of practice Monday.
Before Newman can chase any state titles like his sister Lindsey — who won three consecutive state championships in 2007-09 — and brother Riley — a 2009 champ and 2010 finalist — he’ll first have to crack the varsity squad.
Newman is confident he can do just that. His hope for the first day and future practices is to grab the attention of the Falcon coaches and show that he isn’t a typical freshman.
“I just want to kind of show the coaches what I can do because freshmen don’t have a lot of eyes on them,” Newman said. “Hopefully I can show the coaches what I’m about and hopefully I can get to the top on varsity.”
If there was any year for a freshman to make varsity — which isn’t all that rare in high school sports, according to Newman — it would be this season. The Falcons lost 10 seniors and most of their varsity lineup from last year.
“We’re young but the players always fill in, it always happens,” said Falcons’ head coach Karyle Kramer said. “It’s wide-open right now.”
She also added that she has faith that Newman will prove to be a valuable asset to the team.
“This is not the first day I’ve seen Kody play,” Kramer said. “I know he has a fairly solid game already, he’s got good foundation. He said he comes from a family of competitors and I know he is a competitor. I have no doubts that Kody is going to contribute. He’s going to work hard and compete and compete well.”
The Falcons will have about 30 players this year, Kramer said. They’ll also be young.
Kramer and the two assistants — Nancy Ricketts and Bess Windecker Nelson —led drills and conditioning Monday.
The practices run from 9 a.m. to noon and shift through a variety of stroke and conditioning stations.
Kramer said the first few days of practice are important for getting the players back into a competitive mindset as well as playing shape.
But because there isn’t a solidified varsity lineup, they will be closely evaluating the players.
“Its partly to get players out and get them in shape and reacquainted with the game,” Kramer said. “But for many of them, especially with this year with the loss of so many players, it’s about looking at the bodies we have now. Early on, we have to start thinking about who is going to be in our ‘varsity 10.’ ”
Senior Jacob Nelson, who is one of two returning varsity players, was excited to see the season had finally begun.
“I feel like I did pretty well so far, I feel pretty good,” Nelson said. “I’ve been fine-tuning what I need to work on during the season. My backhand, I need to work on that, so I can just work on my backhand. One of the things I’ve worked on this summer is serving. I just go out by myself and grab a bucket of balls and hit the serve.”
Nelson doesn’t know how this season’s varsity team will compare to last year, but he was confident there would be quality players.
Kramer didn’t have any top players in mind, rather, she believed the middle of the pack to be even skill-wise, where anyone could rise to the top.