Twenty-two straight wins to begin the season — including qualifying for the Division II district tournament — is an impressive start for any high school tennis player, let alone a freshman.
But it’s a streak of one victory that might be the favorite for Shawnee High School’s Daniel Detrick.
Last summer Detrick finally dispatched perhaps his most difficult opponent, his father Dan.
“I only beat him once. I got him down in Florida on vacation. That was it,” Daniel said during a break at the sectional tournament Tuesday. “I was just smiling all night.”
The younger Detrick will be grinning again if he can match is father’s high school record. Dan, who played at Shawnee from 1983-86, went undefeated all four years in league play. He lost one match in the regular season of his high school career.
Daniel, meanwhile, suffered his first loss of the season Saturday in the D-II sectional tournament finals.
The Detrick name is familiar in Springfield tennis. John, Daniel’s grandfather and a Clark County commissioner, took up the game at 35. Dan enjoyed his high school success highlighted by a trip to the state tournament with doubles partner and current Colorado tennis pro Derek Fisher. Sister Kenzie, a 2013 Shawnee grad, was a four-time district qualifier.
If opponents didn’t know Detrick before the season, they do now. His accomplishments are worthy of applause.
Some, though, decline to give Detrick a hand.
Detrick was in that situation during his opening-round match at the D-II sectional tournament in Troy. His opponent from Northridge had just tied Detrick 1-1. It was reason to celebrate considering most of Detrick’s opponents failed to win more than a game or two against him this season.
But just as quickly as his senior opponent tied the match, it all unraveled in a 6-1, 6-0 drubbing. Detrick waited at the net to shake the Northridge senior’s hand. His opponent refused and walked off the court.
Opponents better get used to Detrick’s slices, top spins and passing shots that find the corner. They have three more seasons of it.
“He is amazing at returning anything,” first-year Shawnee coach Ben Eckstein said. “Very few balls get past him and he finds some way to get them in. That’s where he’s most deadly. He also has a lot of control on the ball so even when he’s not moving around he’s able to place the ball where he wants to. He makes very few mistakes.”
Both Dan and Daniel learned from Springfield coaching legend Greg Dredge. Daniel now takes lessons from Matt Jackson at Schroeder Tennis Center in Tipp City, where he practices three times a week during the winter.
One of his biggest lessons learned: Don’t miss.
“One of the biggest things high school tennis players do is think you have to hit all these winners,” Daniel said. “My philosophy is get back until you have a shot you can do something with. You have to wait for your opportunity.”
Daniel did that Tuesday, slowing down the pace of his first-round match with lobs and drop shots then cranking it up with a powerful groundstroke down the line.
“He’s a smart player and sets up the point well,” Dan said. “You’ll see him angle people and bring them in, then pass or lob the ball past them. It can drive people nuts.”
Daniel isn’t the only one in the family with that ability. One reason his dad plays him so well is he knows how to get Daniel off his game.
“The biggest thing playing my dad is he knows what makes me mad,” Daniel said. “He knows how to beat me. That’s how he beats me down now.”
Well, except for that one time in Florida where Daniel scored a 7-5 victory under a hot sun.
As good as Daniel is in tennis, it’s not his best area of achievement. He carries a 4.33 grade-point average, is driven to be Shawnee’s valedictorian and plans to major in chemical engineering in college.
“I’m really heavy on my academics. I love school,” Daniel said. “I normally stress myself out and tennis has taken that stress away. It’s made it a lot more fun to go out and (my teammates) have helped make it great.”