Tennis ‘Walk-On’ Brings Needed Leadership To Team

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Imagine a lanky kid who listens to hip-hop and never stops smiling, walks into your office and he asks you to play tennis. Mind you, tennis is not a sport generally played by the hip hop crowd and smiles are a rarity at the most. The kid says he has never played for a school and doesn’t seem to be a force on the court. To take a chance or not to take a chance? In this case, taking a chance gave men’s tennis head coach Bob Mackay his team captain.

“He walked in one day and just simply said, ‘I’d like to play tennis.’ I didn’t even have to recruit him,” Mackay recalls with a smile, while his young star is pummeling balls in a doubles match against Reedley College.

Team captain and emotional leader, Gevork Kirakosyan leads with unmatched intensity. “He understands how much energy it takes to win,” Mackay says. “And that rubs off on all the other players.”

Kirakosyan was dragged by his father to the tennis court eight years ago and has loved the game ever since. He does not think people appreciate how much hard work goes into preparing for a match.

“When I don’t play tennis, I’m working out,” Kirakosyan explains. “I’m just trying to get better and better at keeping the ball in play.”
MacKay attributes much of Kirakosyan’s success to his loyalty to the game. With Kirakosyan’s hitting power, it’s hard not to feel bad for the tennis ball that feels most of the wrath.

“He’s got a lot of ammunition,” Mackay says. “He’s just as lethal with his backhand as he is with his forehand.” Kirakosyan adds, “When I start feeling the ball my shots are real powerful; I just give the other player my hardest shot to scare them from the start.”

Although it seems like Kirakosyan’s world revolves around the fuzzy green ball, he has varied interests and even played a different sport in High School.

He played football through high school at Ribet Academy and considers it his second favorite sport. He didn’t play tennis for Ribet, because as he puts it, the courts at the school were horrendous at best. He played tennis at parks and practically anywhere else to satisfy the hunger for the sport.

If playing tennis doesn’t turn into a career, Kirakosyan plans on becoming a pharmacist, but insists that failure is not an option.
Everything comes back to tennis at the present for Kirakosyan. He is focused on the team effort and hopes to lead his team to a conference title.

“The biggest goal right now for us is to win the conference.”

Kirakosyan says. The Vaqueros are presently 3-2 on the season and 2-0 in conference play. Glendale crushed Reedley 8-1 in the singles portion and hope to extend a three game winning streak.

Coach Mackay seemingly can’t smile enough about the chance he took, but what makes his star player more impressive is the qualities he passes on to his teammates. “He brings a lot to this team and makes everyone around him better, that’s why he’s our captain.”

The coach then softens his voice in admiration as he explains what makes Kirakosyan so special. “He loves tennis, but what’s most important is that he truly loves life.”