Durango High School girls tennis team dedicated to the game
Every weekday after school, the Durango High School girls’ tennis team practices on the courts—rain, wind, or shine. The shuffling of feet and the faint hum of balls bouncing off clubs can be heard across the DHS parking lot and all the way down to the Animas River.
These are ordinary tennis sounds created by an extraordinary team.
This year’s team is exceptional because of its size. With 38 players, it’s one of the largest girls’ tennis teams DHS has seen in years. It’s also exceptional for its positive approach to the game.
Head coach Darren Tarshis, who has coached the team for four years, emphasizes commitment and a desire for personal improvement over winning games. He said he looks for three main qualities in his players: commitment, growth and coaching ability.
“In my first year as a coach, some players treated it like a club and came when it fit… My focus is to make it where the kids are engaged and they’re here because they want to be,” he said.
On the Tarshis team, the varsity, junior varsity and development players are expected to be equally committed.
Tarshis himself is committed to the game. Being a DHS vice president takes a lot of time and energy, but tennis gives it a liberation.
“For me, as an administrator, I realized pretty early on that it can be difficult, and I have difficult interactions with students, and being in administration isn’t always the most popular person,” Tarshis said. “I knew it would be important to have a positive outlet where I could work directly with students. It was a really positive thing.”
Tarshis’ commitment to the team is evident in the positive atmosphere during training. Laughter and words of encouragement from the team can be heard in the squares every day.
“It’s a great community. The people on the team are so much fun to be around and there is so much positive energy. We’re kind of a big friend group,” said sophomore Juliet DiGiacomo.
Tennis is not only a physically demanding sport, but also a mental challenge.
“The worst thing about tennis is definitely that it’s a mental sport. If you screw it up, it’s going to stick in your head for a while,” junior Ellie Mclean said.
Her opinion was shared by her teammate, junior Ellie Davenport, the team’s second-biggest singles player.
“Some days it feels like you’re playing really well and other days you’re just bad and you don’t know why,” she said.
Despite the game’s challenges, the Durango girls have played strongly this season, winning two doubles games and losing two games. The key games of the season are coming up, including many home games where players will play on their own DHS pitches.
Tarshis maintains its philosophy even in the face of serious competition.
“I’m not too worried about our game results, it will work if everything else goes well,” he said. “If all the kids get better and can show up to practice every day and be able to be coached, you will get the game results you deserve.”
So if you happen to be near the DHS tennis courts on a weekday afternoon, you’ll find that Tarshis and his team are hard at work on drills and practice games, honing their skills to win games and grow as players.
Abby Bowman is an intern at the Durango Herald. She attends Durango High School.