He had just reached an incredible coaching milestone and Tom Berven chose to observe it his way.
Instead of pumping his fist into the air after winning his 400th career dual-meet match, Berven celebrated the rare feat by simply enjoying a few more moments of coaching.
The first thing that Neenah’s tennis coach of the past 43 years did after registering No. 400 was meet the last two players walking off the court, Kellen Lavery and Bill Breining, and offer encouragement and instruction.
It didn’t matter that Lavery and Breining had played only an exhibition match as Neenah’s No. 4 doubles team and their contributions didn’t count toward the final score of the Rockets’ 7-0 Fox Valley Association win over Appleton West. They were members of his team and Berven was interested in their progress.
“He’s a great guy and an awesome coach,” said Neenah senior Andrew Juneau, who teamed with Matt Brooks to win a 6-0, 6-2 match at No. 1 doubles. “It feels awesome to be a part of this. My brother played for him and so did my uncle. There’s a real legacy here and we’re just trying to do our part to protect it.”
With Tuesday’s win, Neenah climbed to 5-0 in the FVA and Berven bumped his dual-meet record to a glittering 400-46-1. That mark is for regular-season duals only and does not include his victories in invitational tournament or postseason play.
“If you count tournament and the postseason like a lot of coaches do, Tom probably has well over 700 career wins, which is pretty incredible,” said Neenah athletic director Jim Strick.
With the victory, Berven joined Nicolet’s Cary Bachman and Brookfield Central’s Dave Steinbach as the only Wisconsin high school tennis coaches to win more than 400 career matches.
“What does it mean? It means I’ve been around for a long time,” said the energetic 72-year-old Berven with a laugh. “It’s all been a blur. It just goes so fast. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve truly been blessed to have worked with so many gifted athletes with a passion for our sport.
— Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or email@example.com; On Twitter @twfroberg