There is simply no catching Thomas Jefferson High School tennis coach Andrew Buchan.
He has coached the Raiders tennis program since 1986 and has compiled just over 500 career wins as its boys and girls coach.
In the Buchan extended family, however, that is not where a “who’s best” discussion would end. Particularly for his nephews and Decatur High School tennis players Elden and Jacob Buchan, it is always an open discussion.
The Golden Gator sophomores flexed their tennis muscles a little more after both won their doubles matches and Decatur claimed a 5-0 team victory Tuesday over the Federal Way Eagles at Decatur High School.
In the win, Jacob Buchan teamed with Tae Hyung Kim and won 6-0, 6-0 easily. Elden Buchan teamed with senior Ben Ray and also cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 victory. Based on their experience and knowledge of the team, the two have even helped influence specific lineups with longtime Decatur coach John Cassens.
“They’re fun,” Cassens said. “I’ve had different lineups based on their explanations. On more than one occasion, their reasoning has been so good, I just had to do it. I don’t know how many coaches have players that are that innovative.”
With input from the Buchans, Cassens is off to one of if not his best boys tennis season with Decatur since taking over in 2006.
Buchans keep standard high for Gators Elden and Jacob Buchan, being persuasive is just part of their makeup. And because of their uncle’s high school and private coaching success, one that has created a brand, “Team Buchan Tennis,” that is renowned across the state, the two have no choice but to be confident and possess the skills to back it up.
“When we get together, we always want to see who’s better,” Jacob Buchan said. “There’s so much competition. It’s hard to have a ‘bad week’ in our family because either everyone already knows about it, or, if they don’t, when we see each other we don’t want to tell them. We always do our best so we can beat the cousins.”
If such a conversation takes place, however, a match to prove who is best usually breaks out, and age is not a consideration when that happens.
“We don’t like to lose at all,” Elden Buchan said. “All you can do is play as hard as you can.”
So far, the approach is working.
“Me and Elden play them all the time,” Jacob Buchan said. “We beat them, but it’s usually always close, like, a couple sets close.”
For Elden and Jacob Buchan, the word “pressure” is simply a verb.
The family has so many current or former athletes, the concept of competing and performing at a high level for the Decatur Gators is not a consideration for the Buchans.
They know how many wins their uncle has. They know he has built one of if not the most well-known tennis brands in the state.
But Elden and Jacob Buchan have developed an advantage of their own as multi-sport athletes. In addition to tennis, Jacob Buchan has become a staple with the Golden Gators soccer program, while Elden Buchan is climbing the ranks with Decatur baseball.
“They are very talented,” Cassens said. “They come out and play really good tennis, and it’s not even their primary sport.”
At the end of the day, the Buchans are a family.
Despite competing at rival schools across the city, Elden and Jacob Buchan know their uncle wants the best for them.
In addition to providing competition, the two said Andrew Buchan helps them with their game whenever they seek his advice.
Elden and Jacob Buchan know they are a long way from possibly catching their uncle in the win column. They do their best not to engage in the “who’s better” chatter.
Instead, the two focus on maintaining their performance standards.
“Most of the time, we play in his summer camp,” Jacob Buchan said. “So, we see most of his players before the season starts. We play them, and it helps a lot once the season starts.”