Tennis Coach Andrew Gibbs has three cardboard boxes stuffed in the corner of his parents’ basement labeled “highschool”, “misc” and “college”, gathering dust. In many of them are old trophies and medals that are important, but not as important learning the value tennis has. His “just another box in the basement” motto has carried over to this years’ tennis team.
The boys varsity tennis team has been building a reputation since the program started, with 22 single and 34 double state championships. So another first-place trophy would be, literally, just another box in the basement. And, with a program of 88 players, only six of them will represent East tennis in the state tournament on May 10 and 11. According to head tennis coach, Andrew Gibbs, the team goal cannot be all about the trophy because there are 82 players that aren’t connected to it.
Gibbs has used the saying “just another box in the basement” throughout the tennis season to remind the players that winning isn’t all that matters. If you are only playing tennis for the trophy, you aren’t in it for the right reasons, according to Gibbs.
“You have to ask yourself, what kind of teammate are you or how you use the game to teach [yourself] about overcoming adversity,” Gibbs said. “And all of those kinds of lessons that we can learn through this sport, so that’s really the idea and the meaning behind that phrase itself.”
The blue and white, or the C-team, at East includes about 35 players. Gibbs introduced the Blue and White tournament this year to help those 35 players learn that tennis is about your attitude and what you put into it by giving them more opportunities to compete. The tournament, which has been ongoing during the tennis season, between the blue and white players has kept them motivated throughout the whole season by giving them more playing time.
According to Gibbs, the goal is to keep the players active during the part of the season where only six players get to represent the whole tennis program. It’s important to him that every player gets a chance to compete to teach accountability and how to stay committed to a sport.
“We adjusted that and created some different rules a little bit in [the tournament], we let players substitute people in and out of different matches and let their teams have their own team competitions,” Gibbs said. “It’s a way to show the commitment that we have and to make sure we are being as productive as we can in practices.”
According to varsity tennis player, sophomore Blake Eason, Gibbs has instilled in the team that fighting your hardest, even if you are down in a match or have to play against a friend, is the most important thing. And if you fight your hardest, you get the glory of knowing hard work pays off, which has more value than any trophy.
Senior Jet Semrick is a member of the “xxsoulreapersxx” team in the tournament. According to Semrick, tennis for the Blue and White group is about playing the sport and having fun, not always winning. The tournament, which happens after school, allows the players to compete against their friends. The opportunity to compete as either a singles or doubles player and being able to switch at any moment has added to the fun for Semrick.
“It allows you to play singles and doubles in an hour which is really fun and and also to mix up our doubles teams so we get to play with everyone,” Semrick said.
Junior Harvey Ji is on JV this year and wishes he would have gotten to compete in the tournament last year when he was on C team.
“I have never really thought about playing tennis just to win,” Ji said. “The ‘just another box in the basement’ saying has inspired me to climb the Junior Varsity ladder and try to be better at tennis overall.”
Gibbs’s hope for this year was to motivate the team to come back from their two-point loss at state last year by teaching them that tennis is about how you carry yourself and learning to overcome tough matches — not just the trophy.
“My high school stuff is in a box in my parent’s basement, my college stuff is in a box in my parent’s basement,” said Gibbs. “The idea of what more can, what more can you get out of being a tennis player than collecting trophies, collecting stuff that’s getting end up, you know, in those boxes in basements all over the place?”