LIMA — Alex Swick has spent most of his life under the tutelage of older, more experienced tennis players.
Whether it’s been his father (a 1976 state semifinalist), his older brother Adam (a three-time state finalist), older sister Ashley (a four-time district qualifier) or the upperclassmen he’s succeeded in doubles play with, the LCC senior has always been the “kid” compared to those he’s played with and against.
This year, however, the senior finds himself in a new role. He’ll finally be the upperclassman, team captain, and in a sense the older brother to the rest of the tennis program at LCC.
There’s no doubt he’s earned it. Swick has been a state qualifier all three years, and is a likely pick to reach the state tournament again this season. He is also within range of the 100 wins mark for his career, a number that has never been reached in school history.
“It’s been a pretty fun ride over the years,” Swick said. “We’ve had great upperclassmen leadership every year I’ve been here, and that’s a big responsibility and transition I have to make being the only senior on the team. I really believe that your personality is what defines you, and not necessarily the leadership position you’re in. I want to keep that in mind all year.”
The leadership transition isn’t the only one Swick will be making this season. This will be the first year he will be playing in the singles tournament, after three years of qualifying for state as a doubles player. In his freshman year, he was partners with Brandon French and advanced to the state finals. The past two seasons he played with John Kidd, advancing to state twice and earning a second state finals appearance as well.
“I’ve been a singles player in the regular season every year, and switched to doubles when the tournament started,” Swick said. “The transition was a little tough making that adjustment from regular season to postseason, so this year I won’t have to miss a beat. When you play with someone else, you have to worry about communicating, play calls and knowing the tendencies of your partner.”
Outside of Swick, the rest of the LCC team is a young but promising group. The other singles players will be talented juniors Zach Schroeder and Dylan Niese, who will likely form a doubles team when the postseason comes. There is a large group of sophomores and freshmen who are sure to get plenty of playing time in doubles play.
The transition to being a mentor isn’t completely new to Swick. Since his sixth grade year, he has been involved in some form of volunteer coaching within Lima. He currently works at Westwood as a coach, and gives free lessons through the Lima Area Tennis Association. He considers it a privilege and a responsibility to be able to mold the next generation of tennis players.
“That’s how the tennis system works,” Swick said. “When you’re in high school, you help the little kids because when you were little, the high school guys gave all of their time to you.”
As far as playing tennis at the next level, nothing is set in stone for the LCC 2013 class valedictorian.
“Academics have always come first,” Swick said. “If I get into a bigger school, the chances of me playing tennis for them are pretty slim. I would love nothing more than to have the chance to play tennis at the next level, but grades are going to be the most important thing.”