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Junior Darby Rogers forms one half of the No. 1 doubles duo for the Hand boys’ tennis squad. Rogers and sophomore Reilly Vejar have a record of 10-0 thus far this spring. (Photo courtesy of Darby Rogers )
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Darby Rogers grew up playing soccer in the United Kingdom, but he decided to try a different sport when his family moved to Connecticut. Darby stepped onto the tennis court and realized that he had found a home between the baselines.
Darby is a junior at Hand who plays No. 1 doubles for the boys’ tennis team. Darby learned about the sport from playing at the Madison Racquet & Swim Club, then joined the Tigers when he got to high school. After helping Hand claim SCC and Class L state championships last year, Darby and his doubles partner, sophomore Reilly Vejar, have a record of 10-0 for the Tigers, who are also sporting a mark of 10-0.
“I’ve been very lucky to be successful in tennis. I joined the [Madison Racquet & Swim Club] tennis team and had amazing coaches and opportunities there,” Darby says. “In junior high, our club team made nationals, so I was able to see amazing tennis players, which just made me want to pursue the sport even more.”
Darby feels that camaraderie is king on the court for the Tigers. Darby says the chemistry between him and Vejar is emblematic of the strong bonds among everyone on Hand’s roster.
“We’re all really good friends with each other on this team,” Darby says. “With Reilly and [me], we have to focus, but we are just having fun in trying to be the best we can be. We play together so well, because we know each other so well and have been friends for a long time.”
Darby likes the contrasting elements between the singles and doubles games.
“I prefer doubles, because it’s more team-oriented. You have a guy who can pick you up if you aren’t playing your best game,” says Darby. “In singles, you have to have a certain mental strength to get through the tough spots in matches. Singles is also more about endurance with keeping up with the speed of your opponent.”
Stamina has played an essential role in Darby’s development as a tennis player. Darby adds that he’s also benefited from showing more composure on the court as his career has unfolded.
“Physically, I’ve become more fit within the sport. I’ve trained and gotten better with my endurance,” Darby says. “Mentally, I think playing matches has helped me, because I’ve learned how to deal with emotions. I’ve been able to hold them in more and not show them to my opponent.”
Head Coach Dawn Fagerquist says that Darby displays great diligence as a member of the Tigers. While Darby and his partners have seen a plenty of success, Fagerquist notes that he’s more concerned with helping Hand achieve prominence as a squad.
“Darby is a hard worker and his work ethic is strong. He’s a natural leader among his peers,” Fagerquist says. “Darby is a player that is easy to work with, and he takes direction well. He’s determined this year after the success that we had last year. As a junior, I believe he wants the same success for himself, as well as the team.”
The Tigers are striving to defend their conference and state titles this spring. Darby feels confident that Hand has what it takes to remain atop the SCC and Class L ranks.
“Our goal every year is to be the best we can be,” says Darby. “We want to be top contenders for the titles this year. We want to prove we are the best, even if we don’t have the biggest team.”
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