Volume 92, Issue 46

Wednesday, November 25, 1998

compromising


SPORTS
 

Vocal Testa takes charge


Geoff Robins/Gazette

SPECIAL DELIVERY. Peter Testa [12] takes another sweet swing at the ball in his effort to lead the Mustangs to glory this season.

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

To a fan, Western's starting setter Peter Testa might appear to talk a big game while on the court. But as both players and coaches attest, it is Testa's game which speaks much louder than his words.

Testa, in his second year with the team, was named one of the co-captains this off-season by head coach Dave Preston based on his incredible work ethic and leadership ability.

Vaughan Peckham, volleyball coach at London's Oakridge High School, where Testa played, said his ability as a leader has been apparent for years.

"In a setter you look for leadership and that is what the good setters give you," Peckham recalled of Testa, who led the Oakridge Oaks in 1997 to Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations silver medal. "Peter is a great setter and as a result is a great leader on the court."

Testa shared the starting setter duties last year in his rookie campaign with then starter Scott Peckham. When Peckham decided to turn his sporting attention to the track this season, Testa quickly stepped into a full-time starting role.

Large for a setter at six foot three, Testa said it has been a growing trend over the last little while for teams at every level to look for bigger players to play the setter spot.

"It used to be that your smallest guy would be your setter," Testa said. "Now it is important at every level, including international play, for the setter to do more."

When asked to self-evaluate his abilities on the court, Testa was quite blunt about what he felt were his past defensive deficiencies.

"I was a pylon out there last year," he said. "I have really made an effort to get some more digs and blocks this year and have made it a goal to really improve my defensive part of the game."

Testa has had no problem fitting into the role of captain, attributing a similar role in the past on two Ontario provincial under-19 teams which included several other current Mustangs. The 20-year-old won two national gold medals and a Canada Games bronze last year as a member of the Ontario team.

Mustang middle player Jeremy Jonckheer, who played with Testa on several of the junior provincial teams, said Testa is a huge boost to the Mustang attack and was sorely missed while out earlier this season with a lateral meniscus tear.

"Peter brings a great presence to the court," Jonckheer said. "He pushes everyone to give the extra effort and is clearly one of our team's hardest workers."

Across the Ontario University Athletics conference, Testa is quickly becoming regarded as one of the top setters in the university circuit. Guelph Gryphon head coach Doug Dodd commented that Testa seems to provide a sense of calm, which is ironic amidst all his court chatter.

"Peter is a critical part of the Mustangs running so smoothly," Dodd said. "With Peter in the line-up, the confidence level shoots up since he is such a great player and with it rises the confidence level of his teammates, who can stick to worrying about their game."

A London native, Testa said a big part in his choosing Western was his past with Preston, who had coached him on a number of the provincial teams. He also attributed a great deal of his success to the support he gets from his parents who rarely miss a Mustang home game.

Although graduation is years away, Testa hopes to trade in his purple and white number 12 jersey for a Canadian national team jersey or a European professional shirt.

"When I'm done here hopefully I can get a shot with the national team and if not get myself a contract with a European pro team," he said. "It might sound corny, but I love playing the game and I hope I can keep doing it for a while."


To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998