By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Oliver Staten won every regular season match he played for Santa Rosa High in 2015, but the junior also assumed another role as the Panthers captured their first North Bay League title in approximately 30 years.
“He’s got a badminton IQ that’s off the charts,” coach Brett Williams said. “He not only won all his regular season matches, he helped me coach some of the other players.”
For his efforts on the court, Staten was an easy selection for Redwood Empire Player of the Year.
With Staten at No. 1,the Santa Rosa boys didn’t drop a singles match against Redwood Empire foes.
“It’s always helpful when you have the best players in league to practice with,” Staten said.
His coach said that statement is so like something Staten would say.
“Oliver is the most humble and respectful star player I’ve coached,” Williams said. “Yet, he’s supremely confident. He breaks the game down in every detail.
“He watches other matches and studies what’s going on. Between games when his match was over, he would come on the court with me and before I could say a word, he would start giving his teammates detailed advice of exactly what was happening.
“I would just step back and enjoy as he was always right on with his advice.”
Staten didn’t start the year playing the No. 1 position. He worked his way up the ladder to the top spot.
Playing four days a week at the Boys and Girls Club and traveling to the East Bay to face top competition was a big part of the improvement process.
“Also, I grew into my body this year,” Staten said. With the growth spurt, he’s now 5-foot-9 and weighs 135 pounds.
While Staten is humble and shows little emotion on court, opponents quickly learn how serious a player he is. He plays every point of every game with importance, according to Williams.
“He never lets up and always leads by example,” the coach said. “When you have a leader like Oliver it makes everyone else’s job easier.
“When your best player is also the hardest worker on the team, it inspires the rest of the players to want to succeed and play harder.
“Oliver embodies all the characteristics that are important to me as a coach.
“Those are to never quit, impose your will, always be better prepared, always adapt and always be respectful of your opponent and the game.”