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Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 4
Athlete of the Week: Jeff Burr
BY FRANK GONZALES
This is Sparta(n tennis)! With a current record of 9-4, Orcutt Academy’s boys’ tennis team has fought hard for its good record, and junior Jeff Burr has been central to the success so far. Playing No. 1 singles, Burr has helped his team advance with his great ground strokes.
“My forehand and my slice, I would say, are very good,” Burr said, which has to be true, given the Aaron Burr-levels of accuracy required to rack up some of the set scores he has.
In a recent match against Villanova Prep, Burr helped his team take a 14-4 victory with his 6-0, 6-0, 6-1 sets. Only losing one game in three sets is very difficult, as it requires a tennis player to play better than his opponent, and also to avoid making too many unforced errors in the process of winning.
Burr’s own strategy underlines his focus on consistency: “I don’t serve and volley, just because I’m not too reliant on my serve. I serve and play out the point and try to finish it the best I can.”
Many young players try to finish points too early and end up making more mistakes as a result. The fact that Burr doesn’t fall into this trap comes out in his set scores.
Burr has played varsity for his team all three of his years at Orcutt Academy, but he hadn’t played much before that: “I’ve been playing since eighth grade, so about four years,” he said.
Having results like his despite a late start in the sport is uncommon and hints at Burr’s natural talent. Despite the talent of one player, though, high school tennis is a team sport, and the team’s current success didn’t come easily.
In tennis, repetition of the basic shots is vital, and the Spartans know this.
“We do some volleys, and we make sure to practice our serves every day [along with the] forehand [and] backhand,” Burr said, adding that he also likes to practice at a club in L.A. to help improve his game.
The hard work pays off: “Last year we made it to CIF. We didn’t make it that far. We lost in the first round to a team from L.A. or Burbank. And then the year before that we made it to CIF and our first round was Laguna Beach,” Burr said.
Competing against some of the biggest tennis powerhouses in California is a challenge, but Orcutt Academy has a record to be proud of. And they aren’t done yet with CIF.
“We’re hoping after Santa Ynez we can win all our games and just try to make CIF,” Burr said.
He had good reasons for getting into tennis—reasons that also help to explain his team’s success. Apart from inspiration at the professional level—Burr said he was a fan of Roger Federer—he also said, “I liked to play tennis with my friends.”
The cohesion of friends is an important quality. The Spartans, true to their name, aren’t a group of individuals, but make up a united team that, according to Burr, likes to play video games together when they’re not on the court.