You don’t need shoulder pads or a singlet to showcase new muscles. Sometimes you just need a forehand or backhand.
Oakdale High senior Andrew Gilpin has taken tennis training to a whole new place for the Mustang racketeers — the gym.
The Mustang athlete and singles player on Oakdale’s boys tennis team tackled the offseason with an impressive regiment of weightlifting and swings of his racket, building his strength and muscle memory with a repertoire of training that Oakdale coach Grant Miller said he hopes his other players will soon pick up.
“Weight training makes them a little stronger and helps them not to struggle at the end of their matches,” Miller said. “I know all programs at the college level do it.”
Miller said the key to weight training in tennis is much like basketball, where players immediately shoot baskets after sessions in the weight room. The repetition builds the muscle-memory key for aiding vital fluid motions while building a base of strength.
“That’s really important, going to play tennis after they work out,” Miller said. “If not, the weight lifting will destroy your mobility. You have to remind your muscles what to do.”
Miller said Gilpin, who competes in Oakdale’s No. 5 singles position, has shown the most improvement from these workouts.
The strength helped Gilpin rally to 6-0, 6-4 wins over Thomas Reza of perennial Valley Oak League power, Manteca, during a 5-4 decision in Manteca’s favor on Feb. 27.
Frank Rossier (6-1, 7-6 [7-5] over Alex Vaquez) and Josh Niendorf (6-3, 6-1 over Spencer Jacobson) also won singles matches in the meet, but Trae Folla and Miguel Rosales nabbed the only Oakdale win (7-6 [10-8], 6-7 [5-7], 10-6 over Nick Lopez and Daniel Rodriguez) in three doubles matches.
Oakdale had slipped 6-3 to VOL stalwart, Weston Ranch, the day prior. Folla and Rosales won 1-6, 6-4, 10-7 over Ion Obogo and Tejpaul Nainiwal in the match. Austin Clayton and Hawkey Magnussen also bested Andre Albino and Jesse Nisperos 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) in the loss to Weston Ranch. Daniel Martinez (1-6, 6-2, 6-4 over Carl Legaspi) had the only singles win.
“I’m pretty happy because we almost beat two pretty good teams,” Miller said. “The kids have put in a lot of work this summer and it is showing.”
Miller said he had players arriving each week for summer practice. With 11 returning players and two key additions, the cast appears deep and talented.
Seniors Chandler Johnson, Martinez, Sergio Gutierrez and Rossier all return from last year’s active roster, while classmates Gilpin, Folla, Rosales and Miguel Barajas have shown impressive improvement to make this year’s active 12.
Also back is singles talent Josh Niendorf (junior), while Clayton (junior) paired with Magnussen (sophomore) on the No. 1 singles team. Miller said he also expects big things from freshmen Blaine Rocha and Spencer Keyser.
“It is great to see those guys learning from our seniors about how we do things at Oakdale,” Miller said. “I couldn’t be more excited about coaching a bunch of young men.”
Manteca and Weston Ranch expect to challenge the rest of the conference all season, but don’t carry the same prestige of Kimball. The Jaguars of Tracy were 9-5 in the VOL last year, despite the absence of legendary youth star, Logan Staggs.
The Kimball junior appeared playing tennis in television commercials at the age of eight and bloomed at the national stage when he won the United States Tennis Association National Open in Texas. Staggs is the No. 8 ranked junior in the nation according to tennisrecruiting.net.
“(Staggs) will probably not lose a match all year, barring injury,” Miller said. “It appears that the class of the league is Kimball. They have four club players that are really good.”
Miller said he expects Oakdale to be in the hunt for a playoff spot. He said his team is deep and has kids he loves to go to battle with.
Oakdale hosted East Union on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. The team is at Lathrop on Thursday, March 7.