In one capacity or another, Reggie Day has coached high school tennis for 43 years. He took over the Academy Park boys program about nine years ago.
Under his tutelage, the Knights have endured more ups than downs on the court. But this season, the Knights have jumped to 5-0 start, including a 4-0 record against Del Val League teams. Academy Park has the upper hand in the battle for the league title after earning a hard-fought, 3-2 decision over Chichester, which is believed to be the Knights’ toughest competition, earlier this season. The teams meet again next week.
“I’ve got some great kids and they are really committed to the program,” Day said.
With the Del Val Singles Tournament set for next week at Chester Park, the Knights are led by Zuri Masters-Thomas, who has made steady progression during his career, and is the team’s No. 1 singles player. While Masters-Thomas has lost a few matches, he has wins over the top players from Glen Mills and Chichester. He suffered a three-set setback to Chester’s No. 1, Gideon Tabri, Thursday, but the Knights were able to pull off their fourth straight victory to start the season — the first in the program’s long history.
“This is the first time I’ve seen it in the league — every single one of the teams has a good No. 1,” Day said. “They are good tennis players, and honestly, it’s really nice to see. I’ve been coaching a long time and I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen so many very good No. 1 (players).”
Masters-Thomas fits that label, too.
“He’s really, really tough,” Day said. “He’s come from a doubles player to where now it’s two years in a row he’s held down the No. 1 spot. He’s a great kid and a hard worker.”
In addition to Masters-Thomas, Duwayne Jenkins and Shaun Houston have been impressive, as well.
“We’ve got good kids, good tennis players,” Day said. “I’m really proud of all the work they’ve put in. We’re under pressure now. Teams are coming after us.”