By Gene Galin
Pittsboro, NC – I had the opportunity to touch base with the new Seaforth High School tennis coach PJ Petrides, last week during one of the team practices. He will be coaching both the girls and boys tennis teams this year.
Gene Galin: How did coach Amy recruit you to do this?
Coach PJ: That’s a great question. Past couple of years, I was coaching over at Cardinal Gibbens, helping out with the JV boys program. When the position came available at Seaforth, about 15 minutes away from my house, I decided to apply. I spoke with Coach Amy. He liked what I was had to say on the phone, and we were good to go. I’ve been around tennis for about 25 years. Used to play at North Carolina at Chapel Hill, just down the road, for coach Paul and I am happy to be back coaching here.
Gene: How long did you coach at Gibbons?
Coach PJ: I was at Gibbens for three years. Prior to that I lived out in Colorado with my family for eight years. Before then Oklahoma and before then UNC.
Gene: So you kind of made the round trip back to the the old turf.
Coach PJ: A little ways around. But yes, we are. We’re back now. Happy to be back home.
Gene: How many members do you have on the girls team? Boys team?
Coach PJ: Not sure on the boys yet. But right now we’ve got twelve girls out for the team. We got a really solid group of freshmen and sophomores. Very happy to be out here and there. Can’t wait to play all their varsity matches starting next week on the 16th.
Gene: You mentioned varsity matches, I think coach Amy said except for football, you’re all playing varsity on the varsity level.
Coach PJ: That’s right. That’s right. Good, good and bad about that.
The good is, there’s not going to be any excuses. We’re right into the fire right away against Northwood on the 16th the week from today. So it doesn’t matter if we’re not ready. We have to show up and go put out the best possible team we can. The good thing on that is we’re going to be playing the best competition possible for us. These freshmen and sophomores are very excited to play up against the best level there is.
The bad on that is, you know is we may experience some growing pains this season. I’ve tried to taper expectations as best as I can with these players and their parents to try to let them know that yes, we are competing and we hope to win our matches. But we may experience some bumps and bruises along the way. So we’ll see. Hopefully, we’ll be good to go. Come Monday, next Monday. And we’ll be ready.
Gene: Coach Amy talked about that because there have been brand new high schools in the area where they started off freshmen and sophomores and it’s tough the first couple years. Sometimes parents are a little bit but I it sounds like hey, what you’re saying is wait on two to three years down the road where all the hard work that you’re going through right now is gonna come through fruition
Coach PJ: Exactly. Yeah, for for us, this is not a rebuilding system. This is a brand new start. That doesn’t mean we’re just gonna roll over and every single match, we play and get beat handily. We’re gonna go out there and try to win every single match and hope for the best. So looking forward to it.
Gene: Okay, what do you like so far of the players that you have on your team?
Coach PJ: I tell you, these players are the most positive group of people I’ve been around a long time. They are super supportive of one another. If they get if they make mistakes, each one of these players are coming to pick them up with a good job, or you’ll get it next time. And to me you know, for us like that’s, that’s such a big step that I’m not going to have to worry about having good team camaraderie and good chemistry on our team.
Gene: Towards the end of season, I’ll come out here and talk to you again, I’ll probably have chances to do that before the season but we’ll refer to this video because what I want the next question is, what are your expectations for the team? And what kind of improvements or what would you like? What would you consider to be a successful year and I don’t necessarily mean wins and loss.
Coach PJ: A successful year for us is our our players. Understanding that tennis is more than just going out there hitting a ball over the net and hoping we don’t miss. I’m hoping that by the end of the season, we’ve we’ve done well enough in our matches to know that it’s going to take a big game plan to succeed out here. And that by the end of the season, hopefully, we’ve done well enough to put us in potentially to conference championships or on to the regionals. Let’s just start off and see how it goes right away.
Gene: What I’ve seen over the years covering high school sports is that a lot of kids that are involved with high school sports perform well in school, academicly and they come out as good human beings and productive in the world. What kind of life lessons did you learn from being a tennis player back in college?
Coach PJ: Oh, absolutely. discipline and structure were my two biggest takeaways. When I entered UNC, my schedule was pretty much predetermined for me. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, and that was because of tennis and the classes together. What I hope we can accomplish is same similar form of structure in that when you are out here practicing or when we’re playing our matches, you are focused on here and trying to get better. And hopefully, if you do that, well, you’re going to succeed here at Seaforth.
Gene: Your schedule, people can find that on the school website. You got a possible scrimmage coming up later this week. But when does your season start taking off for the girls team?
Coach PJ: August 16. At Northwood is our first match.
Coach PJ: Anything else you want to let folks know?
Just come on out, enjoy. Enjoy one of the matches this season. We’d love to see some new faces out here along with these new faces. So love to have some support out here at Seaforth this year.
Gene: When people come out here, and these are beautiful, this is beautiful court out here. Where do the observers sit and watch it?
Coach PJ: Right out here. We encourage people to bring out their chairs right here. We’re eventually we’re going to have some bleachers down here. But especially before softball and baseball season, come on out here. You won’t have to worry about foul balls. Enjoy some tennis. It’ll be a good day.
Gene: Hey, coach. Thank you very much and good luck this year.
Coach PJ: Thank you so much.