Lineberry to coach Southwest tennis team

For the fourth consecutive season, Larry Lineberry (middle), will coach the Southwest team July 1-6. The team has the best high school tennis players in the area.  Courtesy photo by Bob Stofflet.

For the fourth consecutive season, Larry Lineberry (middle), will coach the Southwest team July 1-6. The team has the best high school tennis players in the area. Courtesy photo by Bob Stofflet.

SEDONA -- United States Professional Tennis Association Master Professional Larry Lineberry has been selected as coach of the Southwest Section boys and girls 16-and-under Zonal team.

The team will play in Salt Lake City July 1 through July 6. \This is the fourth straight year that Lineberry will coach the team.

According to Lineberry, the competition involves teams in the western parts of the United States.

"It gives the boys and girls 16 and under team the chance to play against each other in a college format," he said.

Lineberry also said that most of these players have a bright future in tennis.

"These kids, almost all of them are going to go on to play college tennis," Lineberry said. "This competition allows them the chance in a college format to play against other nationally-ranked players. This has been going on for a while, and I've been fortunate enough to have been selected again to coach them again this year. I've been coaching a long time, over 40 years. They like what I do. I really enjoy the chance to help these kids get scholarships."

Lineberry will coach both boys and the girls.

"In a college format, there are six singles and three doubles, "he said. "In this format, there are 18 points that you play for, nine for the boys and nine for the girls. We play them throughout the day, every day. We start at about 8 a.m. We just go through the day. It's 90 matches in five days. It's very grueling work for me. The kids only play twice a day, singles and doubles.," he said.

But Lineberry doesn't get that much of a break.

But, I'm coaching every single match, I get no let up."

Lineberry said this tournament is huge for the players.

"For these kids, this is the biggest tournament of their career," he said.

He added he likes helping the players.

"I do the best I can to give them the best advice I can to be notice by scouts. There are college scouts all over the place at this event. They have a chance to be noticed and have their chances increase for getting a scholarship."

Lineberry said the team faces tough competition at the tournament.

These are some of the best tennis players.

"Our southwest team has generally been in the bottom half of the 12 teams that compete," he said. "We are one of the smallest sections in the tournament, only Hawaii is smaller. Out of the 12, we finished in the bottom half the first two years."

But he said last year the team improved significantly.

The team beat a team it had never beat before.

"Last year we finished in the top half," Lineberry said.

That was a big accomplishment for the Southwest team.

"We finished about sixth or fifth. Last year we ended up beating the Southern California team which is a great team. That was a big win for us. The Southwest team had never beat a Southern California team ever. This had been going on for 15 years. That was a big win for the kids. I was very happy for them, it was a great effort. "

He said the team is hoping to do that well this year.

But, at the same time he has realstic expectations.

"We are hoping to finish in the top half," Lineberry said.

Lineberry knows where the team stands.

"The team isn't strong enough to win it. If we finish in the top half, that will be a great result for the Southwest section."

There won't be any local players on this year's team.

In the history of the tournament, there has only been one Northern Arizona player to make the team. That was Lineberry's son Alexander who made it in 2007.

He went to Mingus High School and then played college tennis at the United States Air Force Academy.

"Players qualify by their ranking according to the Southwest section," Lineberry said.

Lineberry was also the coach the year his son was on the team.

Follow Sports Reporter Derek Evans on Twitter @DerekEvans20

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