The senior needed a P.E. credit to graduate and decided to earn it by attending two afterschool tennis practices a week.
Lucky for him he needed a credit, because it turns out he isn’t that bad.
“He is a natural tennis player,” Kodiak coach Ken McCarty said. “It is amazing to watch his game. He just has great hand-eye coordination. To watch him he is very energetic. In fact, often I have to tell him to stay on the ground.”
With less than two months of experience, Wright is one of Kodiak’s eight representatives at the state championships that begin Friday in Anchorage.
His only regret is not joining earlier.
“I should have been playing tennis from my freshman year,” Wright said.
Wright moved to Kodiak as a sophomore. Last summer he visited his father and played tennis a few times.
“It was just something we kind of did,” Wright said. “I didn’t know how to play a match. We just kind of hit the ball.
“I never really picked up a tennis racket and knew what to do with it until I came here. They (the coaches) taught me a lot of basics.”
Now he can’t get enough tennis. On days the team isn’t practicing he goes to the courts at Baranof Park to play.
“I played basketball my sophomore year just to stay in shape, but I should have played tennis,” he said. “I’m just loving it. It’s fun being out here. The coach is energetic and the people love to be out here.”
Wright is paired with senior Joanna Garcia in the mixed doubles tournament. The two play a team from Service Friday morning at 11:45 at the Alaska Club North.
This is the third state tournament and Garcia has participated in all of them.
“She has experience and I think we will do real good together,” Wright said.
The two wanted to play together.
“They have great chemistry and that is what makes a good doubles team,” McCarty said.
“They are very fluid. They are reading each other. They are moving around. They are calling out switch — that makes a hot doubles team.”
Wright’s favorite part of the game is playing the nets, which showcases his reflexes.
“My dad was a Triple A baseball player and I inherited some reflexes from him,” he said.
McCarty said Wright has been an easy player to teach the game to.
“We give him pointers and he reflects on that and he incorporates that into his game,” McCarty said. “That is an amazing ability.”
Also playing at state are seniors Juvy Small and Jayse Taan, juniors Rachel Hoyt, Shiori Ohki and Jake Powell, and freshman Lawrence Velasco.
Small and Ohki are playing girls doubles, Taan and Velasco boys doubles, Powell boys singles and Hoyt girls singles.
Kodiak’s state participants were selected from a roster of more than 40 players. Wright was honored he was one the eight.
“I think it is really neat, especially since it being my first year,” he said.
“I’m just getting into it and it is ending.”
Girls doubles — Shiori Ohki/Juvy Small (Kodiak) vs. Cassidy Davenport/Marlena Sloss (Juneau), 8 a.m. Boys doubles — Jayce Taan/Lawrence Velasco (Kodiak) vs. Ben Leslie/Sam Zaia (Hutchison). Mixed doubles — Joanna Garcia/Kaleb Wright (Kodiak) vs. Jane Piraino/Garth Shulz (Service), 11:45 a.m.
Boys singles — Jake Powell (Kodiak) vs. Alec Parry (East Anchorage), 8:30 a.m. Girls singles — Rachel Hoyt (Kodiak) vs. Erica Keogh (Service), 9:45 a.m.