Sports

New boys tennis coach wants to ‘carry on tradition’

New tennis head coaches Mindy Blakeslee (girls) and Jamie Dieveney (boys) will take over this spring. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
New tennis head coaches Mindy Blakeslee (girls) and Jamie Dieveney (boys) will take over this spring.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

As the current tennis pro at the Mercer Island Beach Club, Jamie Dieveney understands how important tennis is on the Island, especially when it comes to the younger generations. Dieveney, who was named the new boys tennis head coach last week, hopes to continue those ideals while carrying on the tradition created by former head coach Joyce Hedlund.

“I’m very excited and hope I can carry on the tradition that Joyce had with a lot of respect for what she had done with this team,” said Dieveney. Dieveney, who has been with the Beach Club for three years, has been teaching tennis for the last 20 years, after playing at Pacific Lutheran University. He and his wife moved to the Island five years ago after his wife’s job spurred a relocation.

“When we got to Mercer Island, I just fell in love with the Island,” said Dieveney. He said he was approached by a couple members of the current boys team, whom he knew from the tennis program at the Beach Club, after Hedlund passed away last fall.

“I knew Joyce very well and was very saddened by her death,” he said. “I had been playing and helping with some of the current boys players, and Max Franklin asked me if I would consider coaching. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get more involved in the community I love. I’m very humbled and really excited about the challenge.”

Craig Olson, the athletic director for Mercer Island High School, said offering Dieveney the position was based a lot on the enthusiasm and passion he had for the game.

“He was an outstanding candidate in a field with a good variety of outstanding candidates,” said Olson. “The kids on the interview team and I saw the enthusiasm and vision he had for the program, and it was a real selling point. We saw that what he wants to do will quickly fit into what we’ve tried to accomplish.”

Due to the fact that he is a tennis pro and has worked with some of the current team members in the past, Dieveney said he’s very mindful of the rules set by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) concerning coaches helping their players during the offseason.

“It was one of my concerns coming into this, and I have to be very aware of what the rules are,” he said. Despite the caution, the new coach said he’s looking forward to possibly establishing a program for younger students, which is allowed by the WIAA.

“I’m very interested in doing community outreach and reaching out to others who wouldn’t ordinarily play tennis,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to be an ambassador for the sport on the Island.”

Joining the coaching roster in the spring, when the boys tennis program is heading into the second half of its playoff season, Dieveney said he hopes to start working with the players and use the time as an opportunity to set a tone for the program.

“I’m going to use it as an opportunity to get to know the guys who are the leaders of the team and have some quality time to accomplish something special,” said Dieveney. He said he’s looking at this spring as a chance to ramp up for the fall season.

Mark Bolger, the president of the Board of Trustees at MIBC said they are supportive of Dieveney taking on the position.

The spring sports season begins March 1, but because the boys tennis is playing in the post-season only, they are allowed to start practicing 20 school days before the state tournament at the end of May.

Dieveney joins new girls head coach Mindy Blakeslee.

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