Sep. 23—MIDLAND — A curly-haired senior from Permian High School powers his forehand for a crosscourt winner under mostly sunny skies on a late September weekday afternoon, with nary a wince.
Caleb Medina hyperextended his right shoulder playing tennis during his sophomore year back in 2020 but is now back to full health after months of rehabilitation.
Admittedly not playing his best in doubles and singles losses against to Midland Legacy, the senior received some high praise from Panthers head coach Thomas Bonds.
"[Medina] is an outspoken character," Bonds said. "He helps build the team spirit up right and helps build the team chemistry."
Bonds mentioned that the tennis team is relatively young, with a majority of freshmen and sophomores among the dozen-plus players on the squad.
"[Medina] has done a good job of getting the freshmen involved, because after COVID the freshmen didn't really have a lot of team sports, so they missed a couple years of that," Bonds continued. "He's done a good job of catching them up and helping build a good team environment."
Medina is looking to join a different team once his team at Permian is through.
When asked, Medina's answer was simple.
"I want to go into the fire academy," Medina stated proudly. "I'm going to put all my time and dedication to this."
Medina, who grabbed a tennis racket for the first time in the seventh grade, wants to instead grab a hose and put out fires for a living as a firefighter.
He starts taking fire academy classes in the spring 2023 semester.
Crissy Medina, his mother, fully supports her son's future.
"Ever since he was five years old, Caleb was fascinated by firemen and fire trucks," Crissy explained. "As a kid, he used to go to a ton of field trips visiting various fire stations and knew then that was going to be his goal."
Caleb appreciates the help his parents and older sister provide on-and-off the court.
"Most of the time, they come to all my games," Medina said. "They support me no matter what.
"If I play good or bad, they're always there to support me and help me get better."
Medina, who politely finishes off every sentence with "sir", looks up to his head coach in Bonds as his role model.
"It's definitely Coach Bonds," Medina exclaimed. "He always has a positive attitude. He's always there to help people out no matter what he's doing."
Bonds returned the favor back to his seniors, like Medina.
"There is a lot of team leadership — my old guys gotta pass the torch, to the young-uns," Bonds said. "What my seniors have done a good job of is teaching them core values that we are practicing to this team, like hard work ethic, right discipline in the classroom and the discipline on the court.
"Those kinds of things, those lessons I hope to carry with them, because not everybody's here to play college tennis. We have to choose some skills that they can carry on in life."