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Wee's net gain a plus for Sage

Daily Pilot Male High School Athlete Of The Week

March 24, 2006|By Dave Thorpe

Sage Hill School boys' tennis player Robert Wee used to treat the net like it was the plague.

The Lightning junior stayed as far away from the net as possible, hugging the baseline and chasing down balls like there was a gravitational pull holding him back.

Wee had a fair amount of success doing this because of his quickness. But after last season, when Wee was a sophomore, Sage Hill boys' varsity tennis Coach A.G. Longoria told him things had to change if he wanted to advance his game.

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"I told him if he wanted to move to the next level, he has to attack the short ball, come to the net, use the volley and overhand, and he has," Longoria said.

From last season to this summer, Wee started altering his game. From that point through this season, he has shown huge improvement.

"He had no serve and no volley at the end of last year," Longoria said. "He only came to the net to shake hands."

Wee admits he was a lot more comfortable hanging back and chasing down balls.

"I would come to the net about once a match, like when my opponent hit a ball that hit off the top of the net and fell on my side," Wee said. "And whenever I'd come to the net, I'd lose that point. So basically I never did it."

But Wee, a left-hander, wanted to improve his game, so he took Longoria's advice, started working on his net play in practice and soon was coming to the net with confidence.

"I think I'm pretty much a whole different player than last year," Wee said. "And I'm probably a lot stronger. I think my groundstrokes are better. I serve better and I volley ? period. I didn't used to volley at all."

Wee has taken his new game to the No. 1 singles spot in Sage Hill's lineup, earning the position with his strong play early in the season.

Wee has swept his three sets in three matches this season, including two sweeps last week, one against Academy League foe Oxford Academy, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, the other against Laguna Beach, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. Wee is 13-5 this season.

"He uses his quickness to come to the net more," Longoria said of the third-year varsity player. "His overhand and volley has really improved. I'm very pleased with how he has taken charge of his game."

The emergence of Wee, who was voted the Most Improved Player on the team last year before undergoing his makeover, helped the Lightning win their first two matches last week after a slow start against some of the area's top teams.

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