Standing under the hot sun, Danny Snyder awaits the service of the ball from his opponent. With eyes locked on his competitor’s movements, he turns the handle of his tennis racket and shifts side to side before returning the first serve. The ball soars over the net, bounces once on the left side of the court, and is quickly returned by the other player.
It’s the first week of tryouts at Paly, and Snyder has hopes of making the Varsity team, an impressive accomplishment, if he succeeds, for an underclassman.
Unlike some who have shown up today, Snyder is used to being on the court. After seven years on a well-ranked club tennis team, the University Club, Snyder has found that trying-out for the Varsity team is not as difficult as imagined. Having been on the Junior Varsity team last year, he says he regularly saw how the Varsity team played and says that it seemed harder then.
There are many differences between his club and Paly’s team, but Snyder claims to enjoy the change. His club team consisted of 10 serious members, while Paly’s team is 40. Also, Paly’s routine involves more independence in workouts. At the University club, a coach feeds balls and addresses each player individually. A large portion of each practice is devoted to technique and improving form. In contrast, Snyder explains that receiving attention from the coach is an aberration at a Paly workout, and players are expected to build skill with far less instruction. The team’s four-days-a-week practices are devoted to strengthening and building speed, muscles, and power needed to be a successful player.
“I love doing it,” says Snyder, “and having all my friends there with me makes it more enjoyable.
Snyder, who in the past has tried out such sports as soccer, baseball and basketball, enjoys an array of spectator sports. He follows San Francisco’s football and baseball teams closely and occasionally goes to a Stanford basketball game. But, besides playing football with his friends, he is strictly a competitive tennis player.
“Danny is an unbelievable tennis player,” says teammate, Nick Robin. “One day he’ll be playing with the pros.”
Snyder’s tennis competition has taken him across California, most recently to Sacramento to compete in the Northern California Team Championships. His team lost in finals to Alpine, a rival club, who the team had managed to beat just two weeks earlier.
“Oh well…we were a little surprised, but they played well and I’m certain we’ll beat them next year,” Snyder says.
Months after the disheartening loss, Snyder is practicing with fresh spirit and says he is eager to start the coming season for Paly. In his daily ritual of practice, he is trying to improve and prepare for his first of many Paly matches along side his many friends from the University club who have followed his lead.
“I’m ready to start competing,” Snyder says. “I’m going to show off what I can do for the team.”