"SK has new coach, high hopes"

"Eric Bergeson is quickly becoming known as the omnipotent coach at South Kitsap High School.After being hired to be the varsity soccer coach four years ago, Bergeson added sophomore basketball coach to his resume last year.Now he is taking over the varsity tennis coaching duties from the departed Russ Graham.Graham coached the last 19 years at SK, but his contract was not renewed in he wake of district budget cutbacks, leaving the position open.Bergeson, having played tennis since his youth, salivated at the chance to take over a program that has been lagging for more than 25 years.I don't know enough about what went on in the past, nor would I want to, Bergeson said. But I know that sportsmanship and discipline are high on my list for what I want to do this year just like any other sports that I've coached.Bergeson is the definition of a players' coach. He relates easily with the players, but they will not stray away from the his objectives.There's a price to pay for bad language and for pelting each other with the ball, Bergeson said. There was a lot of that last year, so we put a lot of etiquette out there and play good hard tennis.One thing noticed with last year's team was the lack of conditioning, which can lead to laziness.A combination of the $200 user fee and good conditioning should carry into a lifelong love of the sport, Bergeson said.The first day of practice, Aug. 21, was a day Bergeson said he was not sure how well he would be received.I think I have a reputation in school as far as discipline and conditioning and things like that, Bergeson said. I have a couple players who have played for me in other sports and that helps because they know. That attitude is contagious.And the result?I felt a level of respect they gave me, he said. I think deep down the kids want that.Bergeson concedes discipline and conditioning will not create the ultimate tennis player, though.I think the bottom line is you have to have players who have the talent to go out there and win, Bergeson said. But I think once you have the talent I think it can be squandered through lack of discipline and not doing the things you need to do to get better as an individual and team.The team he has before him is made up of mostly juniors and other underclassmen.Juniors Grant Lahmann, Kyle Penn, and Brandon Atkinson have solidified the top singles spots.Also looking to contribute are seniors Bon Barnett and Joe Wockenfuss, and junior Shawn Allen.Bergeson said there are 12 players vying for eight spots. There's very few seniors and we have a strong junior class with some legitimate ability, he said. We have some talent, but we're going to need to build. We need to learn how to do the simple things and take care of the fundamentals.Bergeson said he likes what he sees from his players, but admits there is nobody who competes year-round.My two-fold plan this year is to create a competitive tennis team with my top eight but also create an entire team of life-long lovers of the game, he said. I wish I had more of those type of players to play so I can show what a great game it is. "

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