A four-year starter and boys’ tennis team captain for three, Austin Cobb has realized the value of leadership.
He displays it physically, mentally and vocally.
When his Millbrook Wildcats took on Sanderson in a Cap-8 Conference meeting on March 21, Cobb was sure to demonstrate all three.
“I had an older brother who played tennis here, so coming in as a freshman, I already knew how things were,” Cobb said. “Tennis is an individual sport, but high school tennis makes it a team sport. I love that about it.”
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Cobb, a 6-foot-5 senior, played the No. 1 seed against Sanderson. He only had a few matches under his belt back after recovering from a broken wrist he acquired while playing basketball. The basketball playoffs also overlapped with the beginning of the tennis season. Cobb was playing No. 1 for the first time this season and defeated Sanderson’s Scott Pickard to stay undefeated in singles and doubles.
He can’t at all use his left hand, but there was no dropoff on the court. He made adjustments and fended off Pickard by widening a 3-2 lead in the first set.
Vocally, Cobb encouraged his teammates between points and sets.
“Let’s go, Jabr!”
Before taking a swig from the bottle of blue Gatorade next to his racquet bag on the court, Cobb was sure to observe how the other players were performing. The only singles match Millbrook lost that day was No. 4 Ryan Jabr, who fell in a tiebreaker, 7-6, 7-3, to Sanderson’s Greear Webb. Two doubles wins were enough for a 7-2 conference victory.
“It’s just as important to encourage your teammates and make sure you’re building them up as staying focused on your match,” Cobb said.
Cobb, a year-round tennis player and standout, knew during the basketball season the risk of injury associated with playing a secondary sport. But, he wanted to play.
When he broke his wrist, he said he was stunned.
“It was pretty devastating,” Cobb said. “It took me a couple of weeks to process that that was the way it is and there’s nothing I could do about it. I did all I could to rehab and get back to help the tennis team.”
Millbrook coach Craig Isdahl said all Cobb brings to the table boosts the team. He’s one of seven seniors, including twin brothers Matthew and Michael Moody, that Isdahl depends on to hold the team together.
“We pride ourselves on competing like champions, acting like champions. All the seniors are a big part of that,” Isdahl said.
He added, “We definitely missed (Cobb) being part of the lineup during the first part of the season. I think the strengths for Austin is his court awareness and being in the right place at the right time. He moves very well for a guy his size. He’s very quick, and the mental aspect of the game, he’s very strong in that regard.”
Cobb fired several speedy serves to Pickard. He played strong at the net, unleashing a smile when he took a 3-0 lead in the second set after a point there.
Cobb was part of the 2015 runner-up doubles team with sophomore Josiah Schainblatt and hopes to return. He has big conference goals and state goals – individually and with the team.
“The main goal is the team state championship,” he said. “If I can’t get that, me and Josiah lost in the state finals last year, so I’d like to win that, too. But the team state championship is definitely the goal.
“It’s all about the team.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan