Hilliard Northwest News

Boys Tennis

Playing doubles pays off for duo

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Joe Justus was brought to tears after being cut from his seventh-grade baseball team.

Soon afterward, he decided to give tennis a try. That proved to be a good move, considering that the senior for the Hilliard Davidson High School boys tennis team is in his fourth varsity season.

"In the seventh grade, I was down after I was cut from the baseball team," Justus said. "I cried, and then I played tennis and fell in love with it. I picked it up pretty quickly and was kind of a natural.

"I had to learn how to hit the ball. In baseball, you try to swing (the bat) level with the ball. But in tennis, you can hit the ball anywhere (on the racket). You just have to adjust with your footwork."

Justus and senior Michael Porter entered play April 30 having played 10 matches together, winning seven.

Porter said he and his brother, Thomas, who is playing varsity as a freshman, became interested in the sport after watching Roger Federer defeat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 in the men's final of the 2007 U.S. Open.

"I was just a chubby little kid who saw a U.S. Open final between Federer and Djokovic and thought, 'That's a sport I would like to play,'" Porter said. "I was in the seventh grade and (Thomas) was in fourth, and we watched the match together. I wanted Djokovic to win, and he was pulling for Federer. That got us both interested in tennis and we both started to play right after that."

Like Justus, Porter is in his fourth varsity season. Both primarily have played singles the last two seasons, but the two have been paired in doubles for most of Davidson's non-league matches this spring.

The duo is expected to play together in the Division I sectional tournament, which will be held May 16 and 18 at Davidson, Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg and Upper Arlington. The sectional draw is Sunday, May 5.

"We talk with our older players before the season and ask them where they want to play in the (sectional) tournament," coach Steve De Dent said. "(Justus and Porter) feel like this is their best choice because there are a lot of good singles players out there.

"That choice also helps the team because it gives some of the younger players experience on the singles courts in some non-league matches. We keep (Justus and Porter) in singles during league matches."

Justus and Porter already have played doubles together in two tournaments this season. They finished fourth in the first flight of the Davidson Doubles Classic on April 13 and finished third in the Worthington Cup on April 20 at Worthington Kilbourne.

"This is the first time that we have played doubles together," Justus said. "It plays a lot faster (than singles) because there are double the people around the net. It's all about getting to the net in doubles."

Both players said communication is key to being a successful doubles team.

"We have been playing first or second singles in league matches, and which court we play all depends on the matchups," Porter said. "The difference in doubles is that you have to talk to each other out there on the court."

"Communication is the most important part of doubles," Justus said. "You have to be able to set up your partner. You usually are not going for the winning point for yourself but setting things up for your partner to make the play."

De Dent said the duo's experience as teammates has helped them as doubles partners.

"They have been together for four years and they communicate well with each other," he said. "Now they are fine-tuning their fundamentals to get a little stronger.

"They lead more by example. They're not the 'rah-rah' type. They get out there (and) do the things the way you're supposed to do them."

Justus said the two enjoy playing together.

"We have been playing together for so long and we have a good time on the court. Sometimes it seems like we're laughing as much as we're playing."

Bradley, Darby set for first OCC match

Bradley and Darby both entered the week 1-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

The teams will meet for the first time in a league match Tuesday, May 7, when the Jaguars play host to the Panthers.

Last season, Bradley and Darby were in the OCC-Capital and OCC-Central, respectively. The schools moved to the OCC-Cardinal this school year as part of OCC realignment.

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