Robinson goes from varsity rookie to varsity veteran

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Joshua Robinson, Southold's only returning varsity player, went 10-2 last season, playing fourth and third singles.

Joshua Robinson is a patient sort. He knows that patience can win points in high school boys tennis.

“I wait for the opponent to make the mistake,” said Robinson. Then the Southold High School junior hastened to add, “I hope he makes the mistake.”

Robinson’s mature outlook on the game is encouraging, especially since he is the only returning varsity player that the First Settlers have. Coming off his first varsity season, Robinson is now a varsity veteran as an 11th grader.

Robinson, who played third singles last year after starting the season at fourth singles, went 9-1 in Suffolk County League VIII matches and 10-2 overall. He won his first match in the Conference IV Tournament. Back then, though, he was too preoccupied to think about how much things would change for him in 2011. “During the season I was living for each game,” he recalled during an interview after Friday’s practice. “I wasn’t really looking to the future.”

But the future hit him on March 7 when Southold started preseason practice. Robinson looked around and realized that he was the only player with previous varsity experience. “It’s a little weird, but it’s just a chance for me to step up and take a captain’s position and help the new guys,” he said. “There are a lot of up-and-comers who are going to be playing for a few more years.”

Robinson entered the tennis world as a seventh grader on the middle school team. He plays in the off-season, training during the winter at an indoor facility and taking lessons in the summer. “I’ve improved overall,” he said. “My serve is a whole lot better. Over the summer I’ve developed new strokes. I’ve developed new serving techniques. I’ve pretty much developed a new game.”

Southold Coach Andrew Sadowski said: “He’s worked really hard in the off-season. He played a lot in the summer, a lot in the fall. The one thing that I’m noticing is he’s more confident in his abilities, and that’s a big, huge piece.”

Another thing that Sadowski likes is Robinson’s tendency to play for the moment and not dwell on past mistakes, a helpful mentality for a tennis player. “He’d play a real good point and then he’d make a mistake and just put it out of his mind and play the next point,” said Sadowski.

Robinson is expected to hold a place higher in the lineup, and that would mean facing tougher competition. He said he will need to be more aggressive and finish points.

Taking on more of a leadership role also comes with the territory for Robinson. He has been helping the other Southold players, all of whom he knows, with their strokes. What is the best advice he can offer to his younger teammates?

“It’s a game about numbers,” he said. “You play for each point. Don’t think about the game, don’t think about the set, just play each point for what it is.”

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