Service tennis is serving up some serious talent

Service tennis looking to peak at the right time
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 9:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - At the start of the season the Service High School tennis team had around 20 kids. After the third week, it ballooned to around 40. First-year head coach Joe Schmid has created a fun and inviting environment for a competitive team.

Leading up to the season the Service tennis team didn’t have a head coach. Head Coach of the Soccer team Dan Rufner took over the team and helped hire Schmid —who also coaches Service JV girls soccer — and it was a perfect match.

“I took this job loving tennis and loving Service, and I didn’t realize the kind of skill I would have on the team — and then after the first few weeks of practice, I was like, ‘oh wait’” Schmid said.

Service has served up some serious talent this year with three different players that could compete for the individual state title.

Region champion in girls singles, Allya Pedalino, and her twin sister Azra Pedalino both showed they have what it takes during the region tournament.

Boys singles region champion Ulysses Escobar has shown all year that his greatest strength is that he has no weaknesses. Schmid has become a better coach with so many team members having different skill levels.

“I think it is that perfect blend of teaching fun and competitive, where if you are good enough you want to be competitive we will get ya there” Schmid continued “If you want to just come and learn the game and just make it a life long activity — we are there for you too, and if you are somewhere in between, well we are going to help you decide during the season.”

The vibe at their practice is exactly how the head coach describes it: fun but also with purpose. All of the Service tennis courts are being utilized. All of the athletes are getting training based on their skill level.

The rainy weather this summer has also thrown a wrench into what Schmid and the Service team had planned. The team was forced to come up with other ways to keep their skills sharp.

“We have had to practice inside of the cafeteria using two pickleball nets because volleyball is using the gym and cheerleading is in the little gym and we still want to get better and practice,” Schmid said.

That practice has paid off. The ASAA State Championship Tennis tournament is coming up this weekend and the Cougars are looking to peak at the right time.