Can This One Go To 11?

Can This One Go To 11?

Robinson senior Kevin Castellow and the boys' tennis team are ready to extend their championship streak into a new decade.

Robinson senior Kevin Castellow sat on a bench during tryouts on March 4 rolling a tennis racket handle in his hands, waiting for a chance to hop on the court to practice.

He's wearing a gray Virginia Tech shirt, the school he's committed to play tennis at next season. While the senior is anxious to be a Hokie, his top concern is the upcoming tennis season at Robinson.

"There's a lot of pressure on our team," he said. "The competition in our district has gotten much stronger."

Castellow, who is nationally ranked No. 423 for 18-year-olds by, said the pressure doesn't just come from Concorde District foes but also from Robinson's rich tennis history.

Since 2000, the boys' tennis team has won 10 consecutive Concorde District titles, six Northern Region titles (01, 02, 05, 06, 07, 08), and three Virginia AAA state titles (06, 07, 08).

As the team's leading senior, Castellow said he doesn't want the district title streak to end on his watch, but more is at stake.

"[The team's goals] have a lot to do with the pride of Robinson tennis," Castellow said. "It motivates us to go that extra mile, and [the history] pushes us harder and to try and achieve more."

As a senior, it's Castellow's job to help his younger teammates understand the importance of the team's success.

Sophomore Dakota Holloway joined the team last season with only a slight understanding of the Rams' past success.

"Before I joined, I found out they had won three previous state titles," he said. "But I had no idea how good they were."

Holloway, Castellow's doubles partner and a 2009 All-Northern Region team selection, found himself a major player for the Rams.

As the team’s fourth-seeded player last season, he developed an appreciation for the Rams’ past success.

"I want to make sure we keep that streak going," he said. "It's a big deal to me now."

Robinson head coach Paul Fisher says camaraderie plays a major role in the team’s success.

"We've developed groups that have stayed together throughout the years" Fisher said.

Fisher, head coach since 1993, has watched numerous tennis players pass through Robinson. The one constant between the varying groups is the friendships his team have formed.

"Even after [Robinson tennis is over], our players still meet up and even go to each other's weddings," he said. "I try to have alumni come back and play and work out with [the new team]."

Still, good times on the courts can only take a team so far, Fisher said.

"We've been blessed with talent," he said. "The guys come in here and they're already well developed [as tennis players]."

Fisher said his team members tend to spend much of the off-season taking responsibility for their development when he can't provide guidance.

"Playing tournaments, taking lessons, clinics, those things. They're very important," he said.

With all the ingredients for success, Fisher said he doesn't put too much emphasis on district titles. He lets the kids motivate each other.

"I know the kids want to do well and win titles," he said. "They think of it as defending our honor."

They’ll get their chance on March 23, when Robinson opens the season at home against Chantilly.