Girls tennis | Season preview

Portage grad takes over Boone Grove girls tennis program

2014-04-04T17:00:00Z 2014-04-05T14:11:09Z Portage grad takes over Boone Grove girls tennis programJim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com

Katie Sarnowski hopes for an attentive audience whether she's teaching a high school class or instructing her tennis players.

She just expects to see more smiles on the court.

"I want (the students) to enjoy their time with me whether we're working on a quadratic equation problem or serve," said Sarnowski, the new girls coach at Boone Grove. "I teach math, so I know kids like it or tolerate it.

"In tennis, they are there because they enjoy it. It's not a mandatory subject."

Sarnowski, a 2007 Portage grad, played tennis for the Indians. She's been a math teacher at Boone Grove for three years, but it wasn't necessarily a given that she would become a coach.

"It's never been a goal to be a varsity coach; I wanted to get back into the sport, because I missed playing," Sarnowski said. "I've always considered coaching (at some level), but I just wasn't expecting to do it this year. The end of the school year is busy, so it wasn't a part of my plans."

David Paupp resigned as coach, effective Jan. 14, and the team needed a replacement. Sarnowski said she was approached by some students in her class, who were also tennis players.

"They asked if I would be interested in the position," Sarnowski said. "I'm thankful they thought enough of me to consider me as a coach. I thought it would  be a good opportunity for me."

She's been the coach for less than two months, so the players aren't the only ones going through a transition.

"I had to fit it into my schedule and work around other things," she said. "I know some of the players work and have other extracurricular activities. As long as we have an understanding, things work much easier."

Junior Isabel Tavaras played No. 2 doubles last season, and she's also a student in one of Sarnowski's classes. Tavaras believes it's a plus that she sees her coach in two different situations.

"She's a little more personable as a coach," Tavaras said. "We don't talk about tennis in class.

"She's very encouraging (on the court), and she tries not to get down on us."

Sarnowski is very honest about her tennis skills. She considered herself to be "average" as a high school player, playing No. 3 singles at one point of her prep career.

"I have a lot of new girls that have never played the sport before, taking in a lot of skills," said Sarnowski, who has seven new players among the list of 18 on the squad. "I know what it's like to learn how to serve or hit a forehand.

"There's always room for improvement."

The Wolves made the sectional semifinals last season. finishing with a 2-12 record. Wins and losses are on Sarnowski's mind, but it's not something she focuses on.

"Winning a few matches along the way would be great, but my first priority is that I want the girls to have a good time and work hard," Sarnowski said. "What's the point of winning if you're miserable doing it.

"Some times tennis feels like an individual sport, but it's more about the team. It's not one person's fault, and we want them to develop good sportsmanship."

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