Sports: Alconbury coach sees bright futures for tennis stars
RAF ALCONBURY — Alconbury High School tennis coach Larry Miller has a good problem on his hands: trying to find practice competition for his senior star Cristian Felice.
The 6-foot-4-inch California native already has lined up against three teachers at Alconbury High School and sent each one off the court with a loss.
“Mr. Bell, Mr. Behr and Mr. Washington,” Felice, 17, rattled off before a recent practice. “I beat them all at least once. They are more experienced players so I get a lot of good work from practicing and playing with them.”
So far, the practice has paid off.
Felice started the season strong with two wins at RAF Lakenheath’s season-opening United Kingdom invitational and again dominated the following weekend with wins over the No. 1 singles players from London Central High School and the International School of Brussels.
The three-sport athlete — who also plays forward on the basketball court and left wing on the soccer pitch — said tennis is his favorite sport because it requires self-reliance.
“I like depending on myself out there to get the win,” he said. “If things go bad, I can’t blame other people, and when I do well, all the success goes to me.”
Felice said Miller helped him improve on the basics. Playing for a British club raised his skill to the level it is now.
Miller said Felice’s recent growth spurt fueled his strength on the court.
“He’s grown six inches in the last year and that’s hard to beat,” Miller said. “He’s like a spider with that wingspan he’s got now. You really can’t get much by him.”
As a senior, Felice is busy researching colleges on his time off.
“Every college I look at I see if they have a tennis team and what their reputation is,” he said. “I definitely want to keep playing at the next level.”
On the girl’s side of the team, Miller is coaching an upstart sophomore who’s also started the season strong. Ellyn Edwards beat opponents at Lakenheath and London Central. And, she defeated opponents from the International School of Brussels and London Central in her second set of matches.
Edwards also has seen her time with a British tennis club translate into success against high school opponents.
“My backhand and my volley have become my strongest points. And I love being at the net,” she said.
Miller said he’s excited to watch the up-and-coming Edwards mature over the next three years at Alconbury.
“She already has a tremendous feel for the game and still a lot of room to improve and get better,” Miller said.