DeVries dad-daughter bond extends to tennis court

Fathers and daughters can have unbreakable bonds in a variety of ways. North Kitsap coach Jay DeVries and his daughter, Teegan, have created an everlasting bond through tennis.

“She is awesome and makes me proud,” Devries said. “It’s a gift to get to coach her. I wouldn’t care if she was average. It’s fun being out here with her and fun seeing her competing with other kids.”

Teegan said: “It’s great. I would not want to have anyone but him. I am grateful to have him as a coach.”

Teegan began following her father’s footsteps in seventh grade. DeVries allowed Teegan to either go on walks or play tennis. Although she struggled at first, Teegan stuck to the court. Since joining her father, Teegan has become one of his prodigy players.

“Having a Teegan is having a solid chance of winning your first match” at the first singles level, DeVries said. “The other girls want to be those other three to win the match.”

Teegan is heading into her junior season. She finished seventh at state as a freshman and was undefeated during the regular season last year before finishing sixth at state. So far this season DeVries has lost just one match. In addition, Teegan and her dad’s dominance on the court have turned the Vikings program into the top tennis squad in Kitsap County nearly every year.

DeVries didn’t start out as tennis coach. “When I got hired in Kingston, I coached volleyball,” he said. “The NK coach retired, and Scott McKay, who was the athletic director, told me the tennis job at North Kitsap is open. I told him I wanted it.”

He’s now been there for 23 years.

In the last decade, the NK boys have had one state champion doubles team, with six singles or doubles teams placing at state.

“The competition breeds competition,” DeVries said. “The kids get better because they don’t want to wait until 6:30 at night to play their sets in the freezing cold. They want to play at 3:30” when practices start for the higher-ranked players.

DeVries took over the girls team when Teegan was in seventh grade. “The expectations don’t change but I’m a little more relationship-oriented with the girls. I can be a bit firmer with the boys but I love all the kids, and they know I care about them.”

Teegan said: “He does a good job. He can make people laugh, and he isn’t so serious and makes it fun. We are always having a good time.”

Teegan has helped build the girls team into prominence. First, she has helped recruit her friends and other athletes at the school since she was in middle school. In addition, her state performances have placed the Vikings 12th and ninth the last two seasons.

“I don’t think it’s magic or there is some tennis pipeline where my kids are born with tennis rackets in their hand,” DeVries said. “The girls can see how good Teegan is and see it’s possible. She is a good sportsperson and is kind and helps the kids.”

Although Teegan is a great player, she does not plan to pursue tennis in college. Instead, she wants to focus on her studies and play tennis for a club. So the father and daughter are enjoying their final couple of seasons together on the court.

“I don’t want it to ever be over,” DeVries said. “She is different. She is not afraid to play with anyone. She will play with the guys. She works her butt off and wants to win.”