|Andy LaVigne, Holly|
Often enough, a coach or assistant coach volunteers to help out a high school tennis program because his/her very promising tennis player is about to become a freshman. He/She shows up at about the same time that the youngster enrolls as a freshman.
Often enough when you drive by the local courts on weekends, the head coach is out there but not the assistant coach.
Often enough, the assistant coach – who has another job and another life outside the local high school – misses much of the planning and the action.
Not so with regard to Andy LaVigne who had helped out with the Holly program for nine years before his son Joey joined the team. Furthermore, “On most Sundays, you can find Andy at the Holly courts teaching free tennis clinics that the players absolutely love,” says varsity coach Will Sophiea. “I am surprised when I do not get a text from Andy on a Sunday night informing me of how many kids he had hitting that day.”
“Andy is constantly taking the lead planning overnight trips to Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and Petoskey among others for both the boys and girls teams,” continues Will. “He also volunteers his time to help teach in the Holly Summer Tennis Program.”
And it isn’t as if he has no other life. Andy works in Novi which means that he commutes an hour each way, yet “Parents and players are continually amazed at the amount of practices, matches, and tournaments, he is in attendance for,” says Will. “He is constantly making personal sacrifices for the Holly tennis family. He has had an impact on hundreds of kids over the past 13 seasons.”
In the 13 campaigns (boys and girls combined) that Andy has been a part of, Holly has qualified for state competition all 13 seasons, won 10 of 13 regionals, and 10 of 13 conference titles. The girls this past spring recorded the most points in school history with 19 at the state finals and took 6th place, four points out of second.
According to Will, there is definitely a cause and effect relationship to all this. He describes Andy as patient, compassionate, and inspirational. “He has an innate ability to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable on the court. He is not only knowledgeable about the game but fantastic at communicating.”
A mostly self-taught player, Andy decided that he wanted to get his kids involved in tennis and decided that the Holly program would be a good fit. His son Joey went from league and regional finalist last year at 1D to 1S this past fall where he was a league finalist and a regional semi-finalist. Joey’s sister Felicity is a sixth grader who may or may not play high school tennis because she is involved in so many things. “I hope she comes around and wants to join the team when she is in high school and I will encourage her to do so but it will be her decision,” he says.“Playing, watching, coaching, and teaching tennis are things I really enjoy,” he continues. “Holly tennis is a great program to be part of: to play tennis, be around a sport I have a passion for, and to be a small part of high school players having fun and getting better. The past years have been fun and rewarding.”