Thursday, July 25, 2024

Bruton High School Boys Tennis Wins First Ever State Championship

Bruton High boy’s tennis earned their first state championship on June 6 (Courtesy of YCSD)

YORKTOWN — After making it to the championship match for three straight years and coming out as runner-ups, the boys of Bruton High School Tennis were hungry for a state championship title of their own. The team accomplished that feat on June 6.

James Barr, head coach of Panthers Tennis for 16 seasons, went into the season with an all-or-nothing mindset, looking to coach the team to the school’s first-ever tennis state championship.

Barr said he felt 2024 was the best season he’s ever had as a head coach.

“I had my best season ever as a coach. I’ve had good teams in the past. The kids always want to know, ‘is this the best team you’ve ever had?’ and I was very reluctant at the beginning of this season to say yes. I said this team compared with the team that I had in 2014, it would be very, very tight,” Barr said.

As the season continued, Barr said he realized the depth of his roster. Benefitting from strong players in each matchup, Barr’s team ended the regular season second in the Bay Rivers District, with the only losses to Grafton, Atlee, and Hickory high schools. Barr also saw his 2024 team win its match against Jamestown — the first time in the program’s history.

“We were very, very good throughout the lineup, but especially our four, five, and six guys. We knew that if we showed up and played good and smart tennis, we could accomplish the goal,” Barr said.

In the postseason, the Bruton boys tennis team saw Poquoson twice, as well as Riverhead High School. In the state finals, Bruton faced Radford High School.

“From what I had gathered about Radford, they were not very good at the top, but they were really good at the bottom. I loved that matchup for us because we were solid at the top and really, really good at the bottom. That was pretty much how it panned out, we won at the top and we won at the bottom and we lost at three and four in good, tough, matches. They all knew that their matches counted and they went for every point and every ball that they could, because we needed it,” Barr said.

After losing very close state championships in 2022 and 2023, Barr noted as the final match came to a close and the team realized it had won, it initially wasn’t a scene of jubilation, but rather a sense of accomplishment.

“After the last two years and the disappointment, when it finally happens and your team wins, it was a feeling of more relief than anything. If we had lost that match, it would have been devastating because we knew we had the team to do it. We knew we’d put in the work, we knew we’d played the opponents to get us ready for it. The initial feeling for a lot of us was relief that we had actually accomplished our goal we set at the beginning of the season,” Barr said.

Talking to his team post-match, he wanted to share the importance of everything that led up to that moment.

“I really wanted them to know that this moment was the culmination of the work we had done for the last three to four years. This was the culmination of the culture that the seniors had brought in and the players before them had helped to build. I also told them it was about the effort and commitment that they had put into the program. The result that we had accomplished was built by that effort and focus throughout the entire previous years,” Barr said.

Barr noted that now, as he walks past the trophy case every day at the school, he sees the newly minted state championship trophy and smiles with pride thinking about his 2024 team.

“I’m proud to say that Bruton Tennis is a state champion. It’s our first tennis championship in school history and I’m especially excited for my team to be able to say that they are state champions. Becoming a state champion is something that many people don’t ever get to accomplish and it’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

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