TJ Fehm, Norwood Boys Tennis on Hold

Christopher Tremblay
Issue Date: 
May, 2020
Article Body: 

TJ Fehm happened across tennis one summer when he was visiting his father in North Carolina. The Norwood resident found that the sport was relatively popular in the South and would always be playing with his stepsiblings while there, however when he returned home, he was rather shocked to find out tennis was not that big of a deal.
“When I returned home, I found it totally strange that tennis wasn’t that big here,” Fehm said. “I thought it was popular and everyone knew about tennis, but not so here. I had always played baseball but wasn’t interested in playing it in high school. I didn’t realize that I could play tennis competitively on the high school level.”
Being able to play a sport competitively as a freshman at Norwood High School was somewhat of a dream come true. And although his very first match didn’t take place on the varsity team, he was able to get a win against Walpole playing for the Junior Varsity team.
The then freshman eventually moved up to the varsity team. A team that consisted of only nine athletes.
“After my first season, I wanted to try to recruit some people to play tennis,” Fehm said. “I knew that there were a lot of kids who didn’t have a sport, so I got them to give tennis a shot. That next year we had 21 kids come out for the team and 19 stayed.”
During his freshman campaign, Norwood was only able to secure three wins, but his sophomore and junior seasons saw the team come within one match of advancing into the Divisional Tournament. Both years, Ashland stood in in the Mustangs way and both years the Clockers edged Norwood 3-2 to send them home with no tournament. This year, Fehm was looking to break that streak, and to do it in his senior year would be even better.
“Coming into this season I was looking forward to eventually berating Ashland and going to the tournament,” Fehm said. “Tennis relies so much on experience, I not only felt that I had it but so did the entire team. Playing as a freshman and sophomore I was usually going up against seniors who were nationally ranked, so I got destroyed. This year, I was hoping to dominate and make it to the tournament.”
Fehm has held the number one singles spot for the Mustangs since his sophomore season as well as being a captain. As a junior last spring, he went 8-8 with big wins over Westwood twice and Dedham’s top athlete. He also collected wins against Ashland and Norton, each twice, and Medway while being named to the Tri-Valley League All Star team.
“TJ has been supportive of the whole team and is highly invested in the team’s overall success,” Norwood Tennis Coach John Churchill said. “His approach is to outhustle his opponents and if he can get to a ball, he will put his best racquet-strike on it. It doesn’t matter if his opponent has a bigger game, TJ will always bring his best no matter what the score.”
While his goals are still intact, Fehm and the rest of his Norwood teammates are not even sure that they will ever get to take to the courts. As the Coronavirus runs its course, not only throughout the United States and the globe, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has put a hold on the spring sports seasons throughout the state.
“Last year, I had adopted a team mentality and realized that the game is bigger than myself and was ready to guide this team into the tournament,” Fehm said. “A day after our first meeting we were told that the season was put on hold. Obviously I was disappointed at first, but being a very optimistic person, I am holding out hope that we will eventually play.”
As athletes throughout the state are forced to practice social distancing and stay away from groups of people, Fehm has continued to remain optimistic.
“If people can stay inside, we’ll have a season,” Fehm said. “It may not be a season like we’ve been used to in the past, but it will be a season. We just have to wait and see how it plays out as the MIAA has never had to deal with anything quite like this before.”
Although tennis is not on the docket for Fehm once he enters college this fall, the suspended season has not affected him as much as it has others. Taking it one day at a time, Fehm has continued to stay in shape and has been visiting the courts with his younger brother Will, who is a junior on the team.
“We want to be ready for when the season does start back up,” Fehm said. “Tournament tennis is a grind as you’re continually playing numerous matches throughout the week 2 hours at a time. When the season gets going, it’ll be like tournament play and I’ll be ready.”
As the Norwood athletes, as well as everyone else in the country, wait to see if there will be a spring season, Fehm is holding to his beliefs that there will ultimately be racquets on the court and one in which Norwood puts up more wins than loses as the team rolls into the tournament.