MEN'S TENNIS: Childree Settles In As Only Freshman On BC Men’s Tennis Team
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 01:02
For the typical college athlete, freshman year is a time to grow accustomed to one’s new team with other freshman teammates alongside. Being the only freshman tennis player to arrive at the start of the school year, Kyle Childree was not able to experience this luxury.
“It was definitely a little difficult at first,” Childree said. “I didn’t have a teammate to go to practice with, I kind of had to keep up with my own stuff, and had no one to relate to that was also on the team. I actually knew in the summer that I would be the only freshman on the team, but before that I thought that he was bringing in two other guys. It just ended up being me, so I kind of had to adjust.”
With the support of his upperclassman teammates, Childree has been able to embrace the role as the lone freshman on the team without much trouble. A couple individuals in particular have helped Childree’s adjustment go smoothly.
“It has been good because you get to learn from the older guys and grow up a little quicker,” Childree said. “Christian McKean is a junior on the team, he has kind of taken me under his wing. That has been nice to have someone really go out of their way, especially the first few weeks and months. We hang out during our free time, and he has helped make the whole adjustment to college easier.”
Despite help from his older teammates, off the court Childree has had to learn to balance his time effectively.
“At first it was definitely tough to manage my time,” Childree said. “But you just have to find time to get to the library. You have to put academics and athletics ahead of social life, even though that is hard. You just have to do it.”
The Eagles are off to a hot start in their tennis season. They have won all three of their matches, defeating Southern New Hampshire, Bryant, and Sacred Heart. Over the course of these three matches, Childree has gone 3-0 in singles play and 3-0 in doubles play. Being from Georgia, Childree has also had to adjust to playing conditions of the northeast in order to find success.
“There are no indoor courts in Georgia really, because the weather is so nice,” Childree said. “Up here it’s freezing, so you have to adjust to playing indoors, but I feel like it has been going pretty well. That is definitely the biggest tennis adjustment.”
Despite being the lone freshman and experiencing early season success, Childree doesn’t let pressures affect his play on the court.
“I’m definitely pretty relaxed on the court,” Childree said. “I have the southern mindset from Georgia, so I keep it pretty relaxed out there.”
Childree expects that over the course of this season his role will be to focus primarily on doubles play. Having played more singles in high school, the doubles play has given him a chance to develop other parts of his tennis game.
“Doubles is a change, but I definitely love playing doubles, so it wasn’t surprising,” Childree said. “It is definitely different from high school when I only played singles. I have been working a lot more on volleying and serving, not so much ground strokes.”
The coaching staff at Boston College uses a different approach from than that of Childree’s high school coaches. Childree noticed that while in high school his skills were still being developed, here the coaching staff holds players responsible for improving one another.
“The coaches have been good,” Childree said. “It has been a little different than how I did things in high school. In high school, the coaches did a little more feeding than we do here. But it makes more sense to play matches and play each other during practice since everyone here is good. The players really use each other to get better.”
While Childree has been pleased with the way he has started the season on the court, he has been even more content with the team’s close off the court relationship.
“The bond is definitely close,” Childree said. “The team goes out to dinner together, we will hang out together, so it is not just an on the court thing. When you have such a small group you have to have each other’s backs, which is really important on our team.”
Because of the close relationship between the players on the team, Childree feels he is able to relax on the court without unnecessary pressure.
“The close bond makes it so everyone cheers on everyone,” Childree said. “You know they have your back whether you win or lose, so it’s not just based on your results, but it’s friendship.”
The success that he is experiencing on the court is meaningful to Childree, but he makes it clear that the time spent with his team is what has been the most rewarding part since becoming a member of the tennis squad.
“The most enjoyable parts have just been the times spent in the hotels, the times spent in the restaurants, and hanging out on the weekends,” Childree said. “On the court stuff is good, but that has been the most enjoyable.”
Off to a hot start, Childree is not content with the success he has earned. Looking to improve each day, Childree has goals he wishes to achieve.
“My goal is to eventually go higher up in the singles lineup,” Childree said. “I want to try to win as many matches as possible and take it a season a time, just get better each year.”
With the season just starting up, Childree looks to build on early success and put in the work that is necessary in order to keep improving.
“The program is what you make it,” Childree said. “The work you put in is what you are going to get out of it. That is the way our coach sets it up.”