Hannah Tatlock had every reason to walk away from Mojave High School and never look back.
After winning the school’s first state tennis title as a senior last year, tournaments beckoned, and college was on the horizon. High school tennis was becoming a distant memory.
But when Tatlock decided to take some extra time to train and practice before heading to college, it led her right back to the high school courts. Tatlock is helping her father, David, coach Mojave’s teams this season and assisted the Rattlers girls squad to its most successful season in recent memory.
“It’s very gratifying,” said Hannah Tatlock, who won the Division I-A girls singles title last season. “You teach them tennis, but you teach them that tennis is a tool that can help them in life. It’s a lifetime sport. You can play it in your 80s. A lot of them are starting to play away from us teaching them, and that’s really exciting.”
A co-valedictorian at Clark County School District’s Virtual High School, Tatlock planned to spend this year honing her game and exploring college options, but her personal coach put her into contact with the coach at Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn.
Tatlock was offered a full scholarship and will attend the school starting in January.
In the meantime, Mojave sought a new coach, and athletic administrator Greg Cole asked David Tatlock to take the job and have Hannah help.
“I still get to take time off, still get to train,” she said. “Coaching helps tennis a lot. You’re basically talking to yourself. You see someone who hits too flat, and you think to yourself that you do that, too. You think a lot when you coach. You’re talking to a bunch of people, but you’re basically talking to yourself.”
It is helping Tatlock improve.
“The saying is you never learn as much as when you try to teach somebody something,” David Tatlock said. “Doing it and teaching it are two different things, so having to teach helps her understand the game more. It’s helping her learn patience. It helps her grow.
“She adds a dimension that I don’t add, especially for the girls. I’m more of the structure, hard-work type of a coach. She’s able to keep the mood light and make it a more fun experience. She’s a fun person.”
Hannah has had plenty of chances to teach. The Rattlers have 11 girls on the team this season, eight more than they had last year. A large part of the increase probably is because of Hannah Tatlock’s success.
“They see that she won state and think maybe they could do it, too,” David Tatlock said. “The fact that they know she won a state title and she’s going to be a scholarship player in college, they realize she knows what she’s doing.”
Most of the players in both the girls and boys programs had little knowledge of the sport when the season started. Tatlock teaches everything: how to keep score, how to grip the racket, how to put spin on the ball.
“She gives us a lot of help,” sophomore Eva Sampson said. “She tells us the correct way to do things. If she sees us doing something wrong, she tells us how to correct it. Most people who are out of high school just want to leave. She stayed and she came here to help.”
Mojave’s girls tennis team had to forfeit nearly every match in the past five seasons because of a lack of players. With more players and the help of the coaches, the team is able to compete and narrowly missed advancing to the Southern Region playoffs, falling in a play-in match on Monday.
“It’s so exciting,” Hannah Tatlock said. “When you see an actual team coming together, and you understand it, the cheering for each other, it’s so much more fun. I’m excited that I get to be in a team atmosphere.”
Contact Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203.