Bradwell Institute is serving up success on the tennis courts. Coached by Bradwell math teacher Ken Scharnagl for the last seven seasons, he recalls his first season as head coach.
“While calling region tennis coaches and athletic directors to set up matches, some didn’t even know we had a team,” Scharnagl said.
They should all know now. The Bradwell Tigers boys team made it to the first round of the state playoffs for the last two years in a row. Graduating senior Adam Scharnagl recently signed with Grove City College (near Pittsburg, Penn.) to play for their team. The last time any Bradwell student signed to play tennis was when Michelle Dushner, BI class of 2002, played at Jacksonville State University. So, Adam Scharnagl would be the first Bradwell student in 17 years to be signed to play tennis in college and the first male Bradwell student to do so in its history. Now that’s a big deal for any student, even though he happens to be the coach’s son. It somewhat runs in the family. Although not signed to play college tennis, Coach Scharnagl was nearly undefeated his junior and senior years as a high school tennis player in New Jersey.
Tigers’ Adam Scharnagl has led the team at 1st singles the last four years. Current freshman Janez Orr had a strong season this year with the team and will return next year as the likely new 1st singles to continue to lead Bradwell Tigers to victory. Bradwell Lady Tiger Tennis has also shown improvement over the last several years and has a promising prospect in upcoming 9th grader Sania Williams from Midway Middle School. Bradwell tennis courts received a makeover, and the team was recently awarded a $1400 grant from the Military Spouses Association to purchase a tennis backboard. Things are moving forward.
Outside of school, Coach Scharnagl also runs summer and winter travel tennis teams. Sponsored by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the program is called JTT, or Junior Team Tennis, and is locally coordinated by Robert Brown, retired tennis coach from Bluffton High School and current private tennis instructor in Southeast Georgia. This past November, Coach Scharnagl created the inaugural team for our area named Hinesville United of 18 & under students made up of the best high school tennis players in Liberty County. Players are comprised of students from Bradwell Institute, Liberty County High School, and First Presbyterian Christian Academy. They compete against other area USTA teams, such as Richmond Hill, Statesboro, and Effingham. This spring he and his son Adam are running two teams: Hinesville United and Team Liberty. Matches for the summer season began May 18 and will finish up on June 29. The top scoring teams have an opportunity to go to playoffs in Macon, where teams will ultimately compete for a USTA state championship and beyond.
Coach Scharnagl is interested in expanding tennis in our area. Chatham County has their Savannah Area Tennis Association or SATA and boasts several parks that include five to 10 tennis courts each. Bryan County has its Richmond Hill Tennis Association or RHATA and boasts a relatively new 10-court tennis complex in Devaul Henderson Park, paid by SPLOST. Next steps for Liberty County would be to establish a Hinesville Area Tennis Association or HATA. Scharnagl will also be exploring grants from the USTA that might assist with the establishment of programs or possible partial funding for more tennis courts. Besides high school tennis players, there are several Liberty County residents age 8 to 80 who enjoy playing tennis recreationally or even competitively, yet there are very few public tennis courts. There are two tennis courts located at James Brown Park and two tennis courts located on Fort Stewart. For a county population of our size, Scharnagl believes more tennis courts are needed to help our high school, middle school, and younger children develop skills to increase viability in competitive tennis in our region.
Coach Scharnagl would like to next sponsor a Middle School Tennis Club, allowing interested students to ride buses to Bradwell once or twice a week and learn to play tennis. Although a tennis coach at Bradwell, he is willing to help any middle school students, regardless of the high school they are zoned to eventually attend. With enough interest, a 14 & under USTA JTT could be established for them as well. He believes that with more opportunities and more courts, more people will play and others in the community would volunteer to help our kids discover and enjoy tennis. As the famous movie phrase from “A Field of Dreams” says, “If you build it, they will come.” Parents of middle school students can contact Coach Scharnagl at firstname.lastname@example.org about Tennis Club. Parents of high school students interested in USTA JTT can contact Scharnagl at MathManKen@gmail.com. Adults interested in a future meeting to establish a Hinesville Area Tennis Association (HATA) can contact Ken Scharnagl at MathManKen@gmail.com.