Unlike the high-pressure world of the national junior tennis circuit, where adolescents as young as 13 or 14 entertain thoughts of turning professional, scholastic tennis is for athletes who enjoy the sport and usually at best hope for a college scholarship.
The ideal high school coach is one who makes the extra effort to help everyone from the top player to the lower-ranking members of the junior varsity team.
Severna Park's Margie Nicholson, the 1991 Anne Arundel County SunTennis Coach of the Year, is a prime example of this type of coach.
Her leadership, coupled with eager, talented players, has helped to build the premier tennis program in the county for more than half adecade.
The seven-year coaching veteran and Bowie Racquet and Fitness Club professional has used her knowledge of the game along with the ability to get the best out of her players.
The Falcons have garnered five consecutive county regular-season titles and five countytournament championships while compiling a 67 dual-match win streak since 1986.
"The Severna Park area has always had a strong tennis reputation, so we really do benefit from it," said the 31-year old coach. "Plus, all of my kids have such great attitudes, they work very hard to make themselves better. It makes my job a lot easier."
TheCatonsville native's first love was basketball. The former Falcon girls hoops assistant played all four years at Flagler (Fla.) College -- in addition to two years on the tennis team.
During her summer vacations from Mount de Sales School, Nicholson played the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association junior circuit, climbing as high as seventh in the 16-and-under rankings, and fourth in the state.
"Like everyone else who plays the game, I had dreams of playing at Centre Court at Wimbledon, but like I heard Billie Jean King say at a teachers conference, only 1.5 percent of 1 percent make it to Centre Court," Nicholson said.
The women's professional tour's loss has become Severna Park tennis's gain. Players like state singles champion Katherine Hobbsmore than appreciate Nicholson's coaching style.
"The one thing Ilike about her is that she makes everyone work hard. She gets the best out of everyone on the team," Hobbs said.
"When you get down onyourself, she's always there to tell you to keep your head up. It really helps you to get back on track."