By Ryan Massad, Contributing Writer
School: Saint John’s High School
Coach: Ed Hippert
What encouraged you to first get into tennis?
“I had always played tennis at summer camps, and taking lessons at the club I belonged to, but it wasn’t until I met Coach Eric Pease during middle school that I really started to take an interest in playing the game competitively.”
What is it like playing for SJ?
“Playing for SJ is different than what I was used to, which was going out to tournaments by myself with nothing to represent. Now when I go out there, I represent my school. It is no longer just my parents cheering me on, but a group of guys that encourage me to do my best. They are guys that can bring you up after a bad shot. It’s something special that you don’t get playing for only yourself.”
What do you consider to be your best attribute on the court?
“My best attribute is definitely my serve. Being a lefty, the ball has a special kind of spin that can give players a tough time. As a coach once told me, ‘if you spin, you win.’ I know that when my serve is on, it will be a good day.”
Who is your favorite professional tennis player?
“My favorite professional tennis player is Rafael Nadal. He is a lefty like myself, and was the top player in the world at one point. You don’t see a lot of lefties in tennis, so he was sort of someone to look up to. Someone I could base my game on because it was hard to translate a righty’s game to mine.”
What has been the single most-special moment of your young tennis career?
“The greatest moment was making the varsity team as a freshman. I came in with a lot of encouragement from my coach, saying that I could easily make the team. Once I had made all the cuts and started the season, I felt so accomplished. All I had been working for had paid off.”
What individual goal do you hope to accomplish during your tenure on the team?
“I hope to end my career leading the team as a captain, as well as going first for singles. I also hope to help bring home a state championship for the team. This team works hard every day and genuinely wants to win.”
What other hobbies/sports do you participate in?
“I also play football for SJ. I have always loved the game and hope to play it as long as I can. I also play the piano, but only a few songs. I mostly like hanging out with my cousins. I am blessed to have all my cousins living close to me, and the older ones are all role models in my life. Hanging out with them and absorbing their knowledge is how I prefer to spend my time.”
What is your favorite music, and artist in that genre?
“I mostly enjoy pop and rock. My favorite group is The Script. I like songs that tell a story. When it gives you goose bumps and chills you to the bone, you know it’s a good song.”
What is your favorite class in school, and why?
“My favorite class in school is history. Most people think it’s boring, but I find it really interesting. I’ve had a string of good history teachers, which always helps. Stories of wars from the past, I find really interesting, and some days I wish I could just listen to my teachers talk and not take notes.”