Sports

BHS tennis on coaching carousel

Bremerton junior Ahn Ho serves during Wednesday’s match against Port Angeles. Ho won in straight sets 6-3,6-1. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Bremerton junior Ahn Ho serves during Wednesday’s match against Port Angeles. Ho won in straight sets 6-3,6-1.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

AD Duarte out, Bainbridge resident Anspach in as latest boys coach.

Soon-to-be Bremerton boys tennis coach Erich Anspach has the experience necessary to turn the Knights into a winner.

Anspach, who needs to complete paperwork to make the decision final, is stepping in for Bremerton School District Athletic Director George Duarte as boys tennis coach. Duarte held the post while searching for a replacement.

And while the season is more than half over, Anspach is excited to join the squad.

“These kids have a lot to come out and give,” he said Wednesday, seeing the team in action for the first time against Port Angeles. “They’ve got to be hungry for it.”

Currently a teacher at both Ridgetop Junior High School and Olympic High School, Anspach brings loads of tennis coaching experience to a young, relatively inexperienced Bremerton team.

He coached at the high school level for three years in Atlanta and worked for Atlanta’s Lawn Tennis Association from 1991-98. He also is the former assistant pro at Willow Oaks Country Club where he taught junior clinics and coordinated youth camps.

Now, he lives on Bainbridge Island and looks forward to coaching again, finding excitement in the Knights’ energy.

“They definitely seem excited to be on a team,” he said. “Their attitude is top-notch, their mentality.”

While Anspach’s time is limited — the regular season ends Oct. 8, with the postseason following — he hopes to establish relationships with all 15 players, most of whom will return next season.

Only two seniors are on the current roster, according to Duarte.

Anspach said he’ll spend the little time he has observing the players, noting areas of improvement and correcting techniques.

Duarte had never coached tennis before the season, making it a trial-by-error type experience. Overall, however, he said it’s been a blessing.

“These are great kids,” Duarte said. “They’ve been very receptive to me, which is a reflection of the type of kids we have.”

Because Duarte’s knowledge of tennis is limited, he has focused on the mental side of the game, which he said is just as important as the physical and aspect.

“The difference between a good player and a great player is mental toughness,” he said.

Along with advocating mental strength, Duarte has tried to foster relationships with each athlete on the team.

“You try to talk to coaches about the relationship building that’s there when you coach kids,” he said “That’s what I’ve loved about the opportunity. I am enjoying the camaraderie, the relationships. You can’t find that in an office.”

On the court, freshmen doubles tandem Matt Pohl and Doug Erickson, who have played together the entire year, give the Knights hope for the future.

“They’ve seemed to just hit it off,” Duarte said. “They know each others tendencies and have chemistry.”

The team’s leader and No. 1 singles player, junior Ahn Ho, who won 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday, also has promise. Ho has experience at the club level and figures to be a postseason threat.

“(I’m) A lot better than last year,” Ho said. I don’t care if I lose or win. You just do it.”

While an all-around threat, Ho has a dominating serve and consistent forehand ground stroke. Both worked Wednesday.

“My serve was good, I could control it,” he said.

The transition between coaches has made for an unorthodox end to the season, but spirits remain high.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what (Anspach) has to offer,” senior Dan Deckwith said. “I think that we’re starting to come together.”

The Knights visit North Kitsap at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Duarte was unable to provide season match results by press time.

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