Tennis coach Matt Birdwell, right, talks to Zach Yost during a match against Iowa Park. Birdwell took over the tennis program last summer.
Tennis coach Matt Birdwell, right, talks to Zach Yost during a match against Iowa Park. Birdwell took over the tennis program last summer. (David Flynn)
In this week's Coach's Corner, head tennis coach Matt Birdwell talks about his love of tennis and how he got into coaching. Birdwell graduated from Graham High School in 1998, and after attending college in Wichita Falls, he coached tennis at Vega, Northwest and Bridgeport. He took over the Graham tennis program last summer.

Tori: Why did you want to return to Graham?
Matt: This is where I grew up, it's where my family is. My wife and her family, they grew up in Olney, which is not far away, so we wanted to come back home, come back to where we grew up.

T: What has been the biggest change in Graham since you were a kid?
M: Not a whole lot of big things. The town still looks typically the same. We used to do a lot of movies at the drive-in, we used to go to National [Theatre]. Just the people have changed. The people that I grew up with are no longer here. I've found new friends and new people that I work with and everything.

T: Why did you start playing tennis?
M: I'd never played tennis before and after basketball season my freshman year in high school it was either play tennis or go to track. And I hated track. When I went to tennis I liked it. A lot of my friends, they didn't like track either so they went with me. It's where me and all my friends went and after that I developed a love for the game and (have) been playing it ever since.

T: Why do you like tennis?
M: You can always find someone to play in tennis. I love competition. Whether it's dominoes, tennis, whatever, I love to compete. At tennis all it takes is another person and tennis balls and you're ready to go. You get to compete all the time.

T: When did coaching tennis become something you wanted to pursue?
M: It was always something that I had in the back of my mind, something I always kind of wanted to do. I guess my junior year in high school I started working with some of the younger players that were playing tennis and stuff like that. I figured that would be what I wanted to do.

Read the rest of the story in this weekend's Graham Leader.