NORTH SHORE LEGENDS
COACHING FROM THE COURT
Dan Pyser | October 1, 2017
At this weekend’s 18U Junior Team Tennis National Championships, the coaches can typically be found pacing the sidelines in between courts or speaking to their players through the fences during changeovers.
For the North Shore Legends, from the North Shore area outside of Boston, you can find their coaches on the court.
Connor Aulson and Alex Fizz (pictured above) serve as player/coaches for the advanced team, which is making its second consecutive trip to the National Championships from the USTA New England Section.
Aulson and Fizz played together on a 14U intermediate team at their club but wanted to continue their Junior Team Tennis careers.
“As we aged out, we also had to move from intermediate to advanced. And our club wasn’t able to find court time, so we basically had to figure out how to do it on our own,” said Aulson.
“We researched all of the rules and we developed our own team in 18s advanced with a lot of the same players, some new, all from the North Shore area, hence the name.”
When asked why they never pursued a more traditional coach, Fizz checkled.
“It never occurred to us,” he said.
Added Aulson: “We kind of took advantage of the situation. We were really driven and motivated to put together a team, so if we couldn’t find anyone else we were fully ready to do it on our own.”
Now in their fourth year running the team, the two speak like veteran coaches. They’ve developed a tight-knit group that is respectful of their leadership, yet they hesitate to give themselves too much credit.
“It’s not necessarily like we’re the coaches. We coach each other,” said Fizz. “I’ll give Connor tips, Connor will give me tips. We always have each other’s backs.”
The key, they say, is the core group of players that has stuck together over the years.
“Our goal is to find people we’re friendly with on and off the court so we keep the integrity of the team,” said Aulson. “I think we’re much more unified this way. We’re all really close.”
Despite all being friends, as coaches, they sometimes have tough decisions to make. In the team tennis format, the lineup is critical.
“For the most part, they’re all really receptive to what we’re putting out,” said Aulson. “That’s one of the best aspects of our team, we’re all very logical and we understand why decisions are being made.”
“I think they all respect decisions we make,” echoed Fizz. “We all know that we want to do well and we all have a good understanding of our own ability so they understand what’s best for the team.”
With this being their fourth and final year running the North Shore Legends, the two player/coaches are continuing their tennis careers elsewhere.
The 19-year-old Fizz (he turned 19 last week, after the deadline for the 18-and-under tournament), is a sophomore at Temple University. He plays club tennis and is trying out for the varsity team this year.
Aulson, an 18-year-old freshman at Bentley University, is a member of the varsity team.
“Later in life we have a subtle dream to create our own Legends Tennis Club,” said Aulson. “We have a lot of creative ideas, so hopefully it works out.”