Tennis Coaches Serve Up Life Lessons for CCHS Players
The duo that makes up the Corner Canyon High School (CCHS) Tennis coaching staff provide life lessons on character and discipline with a little bit of tennis coaching mixed in.
Head Coach of the boys’ and girls’ CCHS teams, Mykel Seeborg, was raised in Maryland and started heading to the tennis courts with his father when he was seven years old. This is when he met a man who would become his life-long friend, mentor, and–most recently–his assistant coach, Colonel Rayfel (Ray) Bachiller.
Bachiller offered to give Seeborg tennis lessons. He chopped down and re-gripped one of his racquets and gave it to Seeborg. After the first lesson, Seeborg could be found hitting tennis balls against a wall for hours. Anytime he saw Bachiller on the courts from his condo window he raced down and waited patiently to score a match with his new friend.
Bachiller’s long history with the military includes a short stint in the Navy and a long career with the Marine Corps. He played baseball with his fellow troops before the Marines told him he needed to pick an “individual sport,” because they “teach you to be a good leader and [that] it’s good to have something to help you stand out and develop your own confidence in competition,” says Bachiller. When he asked a Sergeant to teach him to play tennis, he was rudely denied. Bachiller bought a book, two cans of balls, a wooden racquet, and taught himself how to play. After showing back up at the courts and winning his first match he ever played, he was welcomed on the Marine Corps team, thus beginning his long-time tennis career.
Seeborg eventually moved from Maryland to Utah to pursue a collegiate tennis career. That’s when his life took an unexpected turn; he eventually ended up playing volleyball in college and meeting the love of his life, Lisa. “I am so appreciative of my wife because she has been such a big support and lets me do what I am passionate about,” says Seeborg. He didn’t return to his tennis roots until he had his own children and began teaching them. He fell in love all over again, but with a different element–not playing tennis, but coaching tennis.
Bachiller also moved from Maryland, transferred to multiple places around the world with the Marines before ending up in Salt Lake City to be the Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Once Bachiller landed in Utah he looked up the Seeborg family, remembering Ms. Seeborg was originally from Utah.
The two friends reconnected and Bachiller was surprised that Seeborg was now “six feet tall–a handsome, strapping young man–and was shocked to hear he still played tennis.” Seeborg became one of the top juniors in the state, and “I was just so proud of him,” says Bachiller. When they finally reunited on the court, Bachiller was even more proud when Seeborg “smoked him.”
When CCHS was established in 2013 and Seeborg received the job title of Tennis Head Coach, there was only one person he wanted by his side to help him coach. “I want all of my students to meet Ray, because he was such an important part of my life. I want everybody to experience him and learn what he’s about, and have him as a figure to look up to and mimic their life around,” says Seeborg.
For Seeborg and Bachiller, coaching High School tennis has been a whole different animal than private lessons. “I want these kids to know that tennis is a great vehicle for them because they encounter all different types of people and styles of play. And to be able to figure out an opponent is one of the greatest things they can have in their life because they have to figure out different personalities in life, and be able to talk to a certain person in a different way. I think that’s one of my greatest attributes is being able to tap into a kid’s personality and figure out what can make a kid try harder,” Seeborg says.
Bachiller’s coaching and training techniques aren’t typical of many tennis coaches. First, he never expects payment, never has, never will. Second, he is known to have strict requirements regarding academic grades. Third, good manners and developing social skills is a must. He requires students maintain A’s and B’s on their report cards and that each semester they must show improvement.
“All these kids get a kick out of my coaching style but this is my way of trying to instill in them the need to have a good education. 99% of the kids I coach are never going to have a scholarship for tennis, but with a straight-A average you can just about get into any college, and sometimes get an academic scholarship,” says Bachiller.
The coaches mission is simple. They want each student to be the best people they can be, not necessarily the best tennis players, but the best people they can be. Says Bachiller, “We have a saying: ‘Compete without contempt.’ I want the tennis players to be aggressive and competitive but I want them to have a spirituality about winning and losing. Competition doesn’t mean the other person is your enemy, it means they are trying to do the same thing you are: win.”
These men are special separately, but together, they break the mold. “When I coach tennis, especially alongside Mykel, those are some of the proudest moments of my life. I see what he’s become and I see how he sets a positive example for these young people and I watch his leadership on and off the court, and I’ve watched him as a father and it’s just given me such great joy,” says Bachiller.
Together the duo is also heading the effort to provide more tennis courts in Draper City. Draper currently has only four public tennis courts, two at Smith Fields Park and two at Steep Mountain Park. Additionally, there are zero indoor courts. During the winter, citizens of Draper are leaving the city to play at one of the closest facilities with indoor courts, Murray or Lehi. The need for an indoor tennis facility in Draper is essential, and these two are putting forth the fight to help all Draper citizens have access to indoor courts all year long.
The coaches both appreciate tennis because it is a life-long sport. You can start playing when you are a young child and you can continue to step on that court at an old age and play a match with a friend. Tennis doesn’t discriminate. Seeborg says, “Whether you’re a boy or girl, skinny or tall, purple or green, if someone wants to learn how to play tennis they can–and they can play forever.”