Kentwood’s Daly finds his place on the court | Boy's tennis
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
October 17, 2012 · Updated 12:33 PM
Kentwood senior Patrick Daly started out not knowing how to hold a rally or a racket properly when he took to the tennis court.
Three years later, through constant improvement, including practicing in the rain and snow, he’s become the top player for the Conquerors boys tennis team.
“We always had a big star, so it’s like I’m leading the team and I get to play all the best players,” Daly said.
In tennis, the top players are chosen based on challenge matches held at the beginning of the season during tryouts. Ultimately, Daly came out on top.
It’s a far cry from his days on the C team his freshman year, when he wasn’t even certain he would make it. Prior to tryouts that year, he started private lessons from Steve Walters, who now coaches the Kent-Meridian tennis team. Daly credits his Walters’ talent and guidance with preparing him.
“I didn’t think I was going to math team,” Daly said. “Without lessons I don’t think I would have made it. At the beginning I couldn’t even do a rally. I had no idea how to play, how to hold a racket, or how to do anything. I had played with my family but I took baseball swings.”
Daly said he first became interested in tennis after he experienced migraines and headaches while participating in sports such as soccer, which required a lot of running. While his freshman year was mediocre, he said, he received helped from top players such as Alex Noyes, who graduated in the spring, as well as Max Manthou, who graduated in 2010.
“I learned a lot from them,” he said. “Being on C team, I didn’t see much of Max but I really admired his game. Alex and I hit a lot and he gave me tons of pointers when I played against him for fun.”
After practicing extensively in the off season, Daly found success his sophomore year, which culminated in two varsity matches, though he lost both. His junior year he was number four on varsity.
A part of his daily practice regimen, Daly said, is the willingness to play in any given weather patterns. Forced to acclimate to different temperatures and surface conditions, it helped him improve aspects of his game in a way indoor tennis could not.
“The balls are heavy and slow and you have to make sure you don’t trip because the courts really slippery,” he said. “It adds a new element to the game. There are some players that go to the indoor club and never have to experience the rain or sun or wind, but I’m constantly experiencing that and working it into my game, so I when I go against players in the indoor club I have the advantage.”
While he has risen to the top at Kentwood, Daly said he is still trying to improve. Though he performs well in singles matches, he said he loses most of his double matches.
“I consider myself more of a singles player,” he said. “I don’t like letting my teammate down, so I’m better at singles than doubles.”
Additionally, he has encountered strong competition from players such as Kentridge’s James Dungan — who took ninth at state last year — and Kentlake’s Derek Welch. Kentridge’s boys tennis team hasn’t lost a league match in six years .
“There’s been a couple stressful matches,” Daly said. “It’s been a lot harder to make a transition into varsity.”
If his humble beginnings on the court are any indication, though, the transition should eventually smooth out.
Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.