Youthful leadership has launched Thomas Jefferson High School’s tennis team out of the starting gate to a 4-0 record over their first four league matchups.
The Raiders took down Auburn on Sept. 14 in a tightly contested match day, 4-1, coming out on top in a lot of pressure packed situations.
In the first set of four of the five matches, TJ led the Trojans four games to two. Auburn’s first singles of Solomon Smith was the only Trojan to come out on top. Thomas Jefferson won three of five first sets despite most of them being down early.
First doubles team of Vincent Pham/Lucas Speelmon were victorious over Drew Campbell/David Schuler. The Raider duo dropped the first set 4-6, but battled to win the second set 7-5 and eventually the 10-point tiebreaker.
Pham thought about his uncle who is back in Vietnam when things weren’t going his way.
“My uncle always told me to keep going and never give up. I know he’s always watching me even when he’s not near me… I always put my 100%,” Pham said.
Pham also got to see his younger brother Jason win his tightly contested match 7-6, 7-5.
“It’s so exciting. During the whole game I’d get lost because I was watching him, his points. Then Lucas would say come here to focus me back in. It’s so exciting, but also nervous because he is the younger brother. But it’s definitely exciting and crazy,” Pham said of his brother.
A pattern that the Raiders have been a part of is a lot of pressure packed points. All three doubles went to 10-point tiebreakers, but they’re used to that spotlight.
“We’re kind of used to it. The key to (relieving) the stress is really having fun,” Pham said.
The winning match for the Raiders was the third doubles of Thomas Jefferson. Lucas Williams/Cole Moore clinched the win over CJ Baxter/Rav Dultov in three sets.
“I feel really good. We made mistakes but then just kept picking each other back up. And once we did that, we starting hitting better and better,” Moore said.
The two Raiders got off to a great start, winning set one, then a pitfall in set two, losing 6-1. They had to flip the switch.
“Once we realized that we were going to the tiebreaker, we were taking things too seriously. So then we kind of were joking around with each other and talking each other up,” said Williams.
The Raiders have a big test upcoming against the other undefeated tennis squad of Auburn Riverside in the coming week. The Raiders host Todd Beamer in a double header on the Sept. 15 before hosting the Ravens on Sept. 19.