Tennis teams at West Henderson have been lead and expanded upon for nine years by coach Alan Combs, who reached a 200-win milestone on Thursday, March 28 at a match against Erwin.
“After you coach long enough, you get a lot of wins,” Combs said. “I never get to hit a ball. The kids, the players and the student athletes are why you do it. I just kind of encourage them and make them competitors. People thought for a long time tennis was just a sport you did because no one else at the school was (doing it). But now we’re very competitive in tennis and it makes them better students too, learning how to compete.”
Combs said he got his start at West in 2010 when the tennis team was leaderless but talented.
“One of the parents on the boys’ team asked me if I would coach because they didn’t have a coach, and one of the teachers was going to get assigned to it,” Combs said. “The players were pretty good at that time, so they wanted an actual coach.”
Over the nine years he’s been at West, teachers and administrators have taken note of Combs’ achievements. Combs has sent many players to the state tournament and had a team go 18-1, becoming state runner-ups.
“Between the girls and the guys, consistency is the big thing. We always have solid tennis teams; they’re very organized and very structured,” Athletic Director Jeff Smith said. “(Combs) always does a great job with the members that he gets. He gets a lot of students that don’t have a lot of tennis experience and he turns them into good players, and he’s consistently sending kids to the state championships as well.”
Combs attributes all of his accomplishments to the athletes he coaches, but many of them say that he is a good mentor and the success is all his.
“I’m impressed by how much he cares about everyone on the team and how he’s so dedicated to give time to each person, and help them get better and understand what they’re doing,” sophomore Nathan Waldrop said. “He’s made me more of an individual, like when I play, and overall (has helped me with) not relying on other people as much because for the game you have to rely on yourself.”
By: Jackson Futch, Feature Writer