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Gottshall has become a foundation for Viking tennis

Posted: March 23, 2009 1:19 a.m.
Updated: March 23, 2009 4:56 a.m.

In only his junior year at Valencia High, No. 1 singles player Tyler Gottshall has transformed himself from a timid freshman to a vocal leader for the young Vikings tennis team.

 
When Tyler Gottshall stepped onto the varsity tennis court as a freshman he was a shy, yet gifted player, who had earned the third singles spot on the Valencia squad.

Now in his junior year Gottshall has evolved into one of the best players in the Foothill League and a team captain on a team that has won six of the last seven Foothill League championships.

"Tyler is such a humble person," says Valencia head coach Annie Kellogg. "I remember when he was a freshman, I'd try to put him on the court furthest away from the crowd just so he could be more comfortable, but now he's to the point where he wanted to be the captain so he could set an example for the team."

For Gottshall it was part of a natural progression in his tennis game, which has become his main athletic focus. Once an avid snowboarder, Gottshall now rarely hits the slopes because he spends so much time on the court.

"I probably only go up to the mountain like once a year now," Gottshall says. "I'm always playing tennis pretty much year round, whether it's on the team or in tournaments."

Gottshall's time on the court is already paying dividends this season. He won the singles bracket at the Valencia Spring Smash Saturday, keying the Vikings' victory at the event. The win ran Valencia's record to 6-1.

Gottshall believes his 6-foot-6-inch frame is a major factor in his success.

"Being taller than most of the guys I play gives me an advantage as far as my service game," Gottshall says. "I like to play a serve and volley game, so being tall helps me cover the court, but I know I still need to work on my agility."

Kellogg believes Gottshall has found the way to make the most out of his build, crafting a well-rounded game that goes well beyond a serve-and-volley style.

"He has really developed into an all-court player," Kellogg says. "He still has a (Pete) Sampras quality to how he serves and volleys, but he's able to do a lot on the court."

The evolution of Gottshall's game is similar to how he has developed off the court. The once timid singles player is now looked up to by his teammates on a young Valencia club.

"There are so many reasons he's the captain," says Valencia doubles player Ronnie Kimelman. "He's a great teammate, and he brings a lot of success to this team. He's just an overall awesome person."

Gottshall personality was rewarded by the Valencia coaching staff last year when he won the team's Stefan Edberg Award, named after the Scandinavian tennis star, who was renowned for his sportsmanship.

Kellogg is quick to praise Gottshall for the way he handles himself on the court.

"He's the ultimate sportsman," says Kellogg. "I've seen him win points three times because he wouldn't call a borderline shot out because he respects the game and his opponents so much. But he's still aggressive on the court. It's not a combination that is common."

It's Gottshall's attitude and dedication to his team that make him a logical choice for captain. Given the choice between playing on a team or participating in a singles tournament alone, Gottshall much prefers being a part of the Vikings.

"It's a lot more fun being on a team," Gottshall says. "I love to hang out with the guys, and it's cool to have teammates to back you up and to get to see them win."

Gottshall is also glad that he gets to be a part of his team for another season after 2009. He is focused on maintaining their Foothill League dominance.

"I'm really excited about how young we are and knowing that we'll be together beyond this year," Gottshall says. "Most of our guys will be back next year, and we've already been improving this season so it's cool to think about what we might be able to do."

Beyond his final season at Valencia, Gottshall is already looking toward continuing his tennis career in college. If he continues to play like he did at the Valencia Spring Smash, where he out-scored his opponents 32-8, then playing beyond high school will more than likely become a reality.

"My main goal is to get a scholarship," Gottshall says. "I'm focused on improving my game and being the best player I can be so I can keep playing."

Kellogg see no reason to think Gottshall's dream won't come true.

"Tyler is very dedicated to his teammates, his academics and playing at the next level," Gottshall says. "He's really grown up over these three seasons. He's a man now."


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