Two weeks ago, back-to-back state singles tennis champion and Nebraska commit Will Gleason of Lincoln Southwest showed a big reason why he is the best tennis player in Nebraska.
But it had nothing to do with his tennis play.
The day before the conference tournament, which Gleason won despite not being able to lift his arm above his head due to a shoulder injury, Lincoln Southwest had a meet in Grand Island and coach Dennis Hershberger only took part of the varsity team.
So he left his junior varsity coach in charge of the varsity practice in his absence, right?
“I put Will in charge of the varsity practice,” Hershberger said. “Those things he brings to our team are invaluable.”
For most of the practice, Gleason said his teammates talked about tips and tricks they have all learned over the past four years.
“We established kind of a baseline where we can kind of go to when we are having a tough time. Somewhere we can go to, to have a good time and be competitive,” Gleason said.
This is not the first time Gleason has gone above his role as a player for the Silver Hawks.
Hershberger said it’s a regular occurrence for him to have to tell Gleason to stop running so much after practice so he'll be crisp for a match the next day.
It’s just something that Gleason does; he works hard at his craft.
He’s not the only player to do that for the Silver Hawks, though. Hershberger said Lucas Dionisopoulos, Cameron Spurrier and Alex Woodward are three guys who have been with Gleason every step of the way.
“We have talked about wanting to get better for each other, and for each match this year. We haven’t even talked about state that much,” Hershberger said.
Even though Hershberger hasn’t addressed the state tournament with his team regularly season, Gleason has been primed and ready for the event, which starts Thursday at Koch Tennis Center in Omaha for Class A.
“You don’t get to replace memories like this, so I’m just taking everything in kind of slowly. I’m sure there is going to be tears by the end of this week,” Gleason said.
So for Gleason, this may be the end of a chapter of dominance in the high school ranks. But it’s the start of a new journey for the future Husker.
“I love the team, I love the coaches and it will all be super-exciting for me," Gleason said.