Andrew Buchan has been coaching tennis in the South Puget Sound League for 25 seasons at Jefferson High.
Depending on the era, he has survived the sport’s trends. He has led both the Raiders’ squads to multiple SPSL Central Division titles — with the boys competing in the fall and the girls in the spring.
Life rarely gets better than what it is right now for the Raiders. Last fall, the boys squad completed another perfect run through the division, and now has won 55 consecutive SPSL Central dual matches.
And this spring, the girls had their own string of perfection – 24 consecutive dual-match wins – until they lost to Olympia, 3-2, on Monday.
Yet when you ask Buchan to talk about his coaching philosophy, it isn’t grounded in just tennis. In fact, his coaching idol comes from a different sport.
It is the late Don James, the former University of Washington football coach.
“I loved watching him during practice. He stood in that ivory tower and he would give responsibility to his (assistants),” Buchan said. “I loved … the way he talked. The respect people gave him was earned, and he deflected credit all the time.”
Buchan deserves all the credit building this once-forlorn program into a league powerhouse.
A 1984 graduate of Mount Rainier High School, he played tennis at the University of Puget Sound from 1985-88. In his senior season, he was hired to coach the Wilson High tennis teams.
Two years later, Buchan was coaching at Jefferson High School. And in his first six seasons, the Raiders’ girls team had losing records.
It hasn’t had one since.
Part of the program’s depth — the Raiders have 40 girls and field varsity, junior varsity and C teams — comes from the summer league Buchan started many years ago.
“My No. 1 goal … I want the sport to be fun,” Buchan said. “From there, you have to teach them the basics. I teach my players the two-handed backhand, the topspin serve and doubles strategy. I want them to have good habits.”
Then the tennis itch takes over. In many cases, recreational youth players become more serious about the sport as they get older.
This Jefferson team isn’t buoyed by star power. Its best threat beyond the regular season is the doubles tandem of Cindy Park and Crystal Lee, which won a match at the 4A championships last spring.Todd Milles; 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com