New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 18, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas
TT C*Ihursday special
Thursday, April 18,1985 8AT *H*E C*0*M*P*E*T*l*T*l*V'E E*D*G*E
JL wenty-four tanned teenagers scattered to folding chairs and the polished tile floor. A coach in a rumpled cap took his place behind a steel podium, and his was the only voice heard in the room.
He began to talk about the day’s workout, about specific skills to be drilled. He waved a pencil in his left hand as he spoke quickly, made his points, and sent the group on its way.
From first impressions, the two dozen could have been members of a high school baseball squad, or a basketball team.
But when they took up their rackets and started to walk by Sally Schwartz, it became apparent that this was no average high school group.
“This is Mario, and he’s from Indonesia,’’ she said, introducing a broad-shouldered, tanned Asian.
“This is Don from Germany, and Luis from Mexico,” she continued, nodding to a blond, blue-eyed, ruddy-faced teenager in a light tennis shirt and blue shorts, then a quiet dark-haired athlete.
“And this is Meek, from India,” Schwartz added as a wiry 16-year-old joined the group.
Meek, whose real name is S. Meenafshisundaram, smiled. With a baseball cap subsituted for his headband, he could have passed for a second baseman.
But baseball is a strange game with hard horsehide balls and aluminum clubs to most of the members of Newk’s Competitive Edge Tennis Academy. Their game is tennis, six or seven days a week, nine months at a time.
Chris Brown hits an overhead during Wednesday's workout
;’re not in the business of turning out 14-year-old John McEnroes here,” said Schwartz, whose title is educational and administrative supervisor for Newk’s. “We want these kids to work hard here in high school, earn a scholarship, go to college and get a good education.
“With this training and four good years of training in college, they can then decide if they want to become professionals.”
The four-year-old program already has a top-flight record of placing players in colleges. Every player who has graduated has earned at least a partial tennis scholarship, and some reached even higher.
One graduate, Beverly Bowes, is the No. 1-ranked women’s player in the NCAA — as a freshman at the University of Texas. Gretchen Hush
is the No. I player on a powerful Trinity University team. Dick Stockton plays on the men’s professional circuit.
The academy’s results, as the commercial goes, come the oldfashioned way — with work.
After taking five classes at New Braunfels High School, the athletes — ranging from two dozen to as many as 40, depending on the time of year — return to the academy and meet with tennis director Roger Tyzzer, the man in the rumpled cap.
He briefs them on the day’s
practice, makes a few announcements (Wednesday was going to be haircut day) and sends them out to eight of the camp’s omnipresent tennis courts.
For the first two hours. Tyzzer and his four assistants conduct drills on specific skills. For another hour, specific point situations are covered. After that, one-on-one and two-on-one competition puts the skills to use.
And after all that, 40 minutes of conditioning work. Running, weights, Jazzercise, swimming.
Dinner and the accompanying sparks from flying flatware follows, then study hall.
They don’t have the kind of freedom of regulai teenagers,” said Tyzzer, one of New combe’s Australians still at the camp “They’re here because they're striving for something.”
“What do you do?” he asked rhetorically. “You cry over it,” he answered himself, with a laugh.
“After some time, you get used to
When you’re more than 8,000 miles from home, you can be philosophical like that.
The academy’s world-wide reputation has drawn the best junior players from all over the world, including the wiry Indian, who spent last summer touring the European junior circuit by himself.
In the last four years, teenagers from Australia to Spain to Thailand have come to the cedar-lined hills to grind their skills to the finest edge, to become the best they can be during the soppmg-sweaty days of the Central Texas springs and falls and the chilly days of winter.
At the same time, Tyzzer said the academy staff tries to give the group a family atmosphere and at least a taste of a normal teenage life.
“Some of these kids, we’ll have here from age 15 to 18,” he said. "I don’t want them to look back in a few years and think Gee, I wasted all my high school years at some tennis academy.’”
They go to football and basketball games at the high school, and can date w hen their schedule permits and when their date’s parents drive. Academy rules prohibit personal cars (“Not one of our most popular rules,” Schwartz said).
Schwartz and the five coaches become foster parents to the group, counseling them on grades and personal problems and taking them to U.S. Tennis Association tournaments around the state on weekends.
“They get to where they’re very-close to each other, too,” Schwartz said.“One of the hardest things for them to do is play each other."
Not surprisingly, the players stick together at school.
“We’re all especially close,” said Don Domnescu. the German. “And when there’s somebody new, we all sit together.
“Especially on tests ”I
mietimes you get homesick,” Meek, the Indian, was saying.
n the last few months, the Competitive Edge players seem to have gotten an edge on the state's junior tennis. Jesus Bojo from Mazatlan, Mexico, who is in his fourth year in the program, has won two tournaments and finished
See TENNIS, Page 12A
Tommy Alfano (left) and Mike Chambers take a break
S. Meenafshisundaram strokes a backhand
Story by David King Photos by Clark