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Prep tennis feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Shifty Squid, Jul 9, 2006.

  1. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    I'd appreciate any feedback you can offer. Thanks.

    By Shifty Squid
    Staff Writer

    Before he walked away, he looked the coach in the eye.

    He hadn't been all that impressive --- a raw, inexperienced freshman with little in the way of visible talent during tryouts.

    Tyler Gleason wasn't a child prodigy. He wasn't a coveted junior circuit player with an eye-popping ranking and tournament-tested skill. No crushing forehand. No blistering backhand. No breathtaking drop shot.

    Three years ago, Gleason was just another kid who wanted to be on the St. Pius tennis team, and he was just another kid who wasn't good enough for it.

    That is, until he walked off the court.

    That was when he caught coach Chuck Byrd's attention. That was when he unofficially declared himself a Lion.

    "He was overweight and not a good tennis player, and I cut him," Byrd said. "He looked at me, and he said, 'I promise you I will make your team next year.' I've gotta be honest with you, I didn't know if he could develop enough athletically to make our tennis team."

    Turns out, he could.

    After an offseason of practicing nearly every day, going indoors when it rained, hitting balls wherever and whenever he could, Gleason made a tight cut his sophomore year, albeit mostly as a bystander.

    By his junior year, he was working at No. 2 doubles, setting a school record for most matches won in a season while helping the Lions make it to their seventh consecutive state finals appearance.

    This year, though, it was the senior's turn to take the spotlight.

    He entered the preseason in a heated contest to decide who would play No. 1 singles --- one he would quickly turn into a one-man show.

    It was a position he had worked for since Cut Day 2003; he had finally made it.

    "I can't deny that I did want to play the No. 1 spot," Gleason said. "It definitely was a major transition from last year. I took it as an opportunity to go out there and play some of the best players in the state."

    He did just that in a tough Region 6-AAAA, taking on top-tier players from schools like Etowah and Marist, and winning 10 matches along the way to a berth in the state quarterfinals.

    It was a season three years in the making.

    "I've never had it happen before, where a kid got cut and made it to No. 1," said Byrd, who has been coaching tennis for 25 years. "You usually can identify talent early on. He didn't have it. But he worked so hard that he developed himself into an excellent high school player."

    Just like he said he would.
  2. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    From skimming it, I see several places where it's redundant.
  3. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Interesting, Dye. I must be missing something, though, because I don't see it when I look back over it. I'm still working on getting better at editing my own writing. I'd like to improve it if I can, though. Any specific examples? Thanks in advance for your help.
  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    A quick Sunday line-edit.

    I think the thing I'm missing most in the piece is some attempt to describe, either on your part or Tyler's, why he was so determined to get better. You describe how he got better, but not why he wanted to.

    In the best feature writing, the interesting question is rarely how, but rather why.

    Good piece. Thanks for posting it.
  5. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Good points all, jg.

    I see what you're saying about getting the "why" and not just that "what" as the subject for the feature. I'd supply the excuses of the kid being a pretty mediocre interview and only having about 12-14 inches with which to tell people about him, but I'm sure a better interviewer/writer could have gotten it done.

    Thanks for taking the time to look it over, jg. I'll gladly take any more thoughts anyone has to offer.
  6. i like the piece. understood that the kid isn't a good quote, but I'd still like to see a quote higher up from the kid
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