Idolizing to acheiving

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As a young boy, he sits in the stands and watches his dad, a man he admires, pace back and forth on the dark green tennis court, with sweat dripping down from his forehead as he fights to win every match. He eyes his every move in pure spectacle and awe.

Fast forward and that young boy is now in the midst of competing in his high school state tennis tournament for the state championship title. That young boy has made a name for himself through his own play and his own success on the court. That young boy is junior tennis co-captain Jeremy Ansdell.

Ansdell started this journey back when he was six years old. He got into tennis like most young kids do – from his parents. For Ansdell, it was his father who had most of the influence.

Phil Ansdell is a professional tennis player by way of Whitman College. In 1988, he was an All American and ranked in both singles and doubles that year. Now, he is an active member of both the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA).

“My dad, [became] a professional after playing at Whitman [College]. It was mostly local leagues that he played in,” Ansdell said. “I always loved going to watch my dad play. As a little kid seeing all of these great tennis players, it was really inspiring and it has pushed me to become a better player myself.”

Last year, Ansdell was able to achieve success on the high school level by qualifying for the state tournament in doubles along with now-alumnus Henri Breuer. They finished in 13th place.

This season, Ansdell wanted to change things up. He has decided to test himself and his abilities by moving into the singles bracket.

“In the tennis world, you’re viewed as a better player if you’re playing in the singles bracket, so I wanted to test my skill against the top players,” Ansdell said.

After making this decision, Ansdell committed himself to working hard and putting in time to make sure that he was ready for when the season starts.

“With tennis, it’s a lot about repetition, hitting the same shot over and over until you’re able to hit that shot comfortably in a match,” Ansdell said. “Over the summer, I worked a lot with Josh Basho at Forest Crest Club, and we were there pretty much every day and he made sure I was working hard.”

Over the summer, team practice lasted for about an hour and a half. During the season, the tennis team practiced for two and a half to three hours every day after school. The team practiced even in the rain, sometimes resorting to the indoor courts.

Margaret Daniels, one of Ansdell’s coaches, said that Ansdell has dedicated himself to a higher level of performance and that he has been proving his work ethic through all of the hard work that he put in all summer long in order to improve his skills. She said that his hard work seems to be paying off.

Along with the individual work that Ansdell put in, the men’s tennis team also had a hand in Ansdell’s success.

“This is the best team that [coach Alberto Ramirez] has had in [men’s] tennis history,” Ansdell said. “[What makes this team different than all the other] has been our record but also the willingness to work hard and practice. It was a lot of fun working with all of these guys. We were all trying to get better throughout the season and help each other constantly improve.”

Along with his own success, Ansdell has put it upon himself to also take on a leadership role as one of the captains on the tennis team.

Daniels said that Ansdell has been an inclusive leader for the new members on the tennis team. She said that on days in which the team would be feeling “down” or had “less energy,” Ansdell always tried to bring everyone up and encourage everyone give their full effort.

As for Andell’s season, it didn’t have the picture perfect start that he would’ve wanted for himself.

“I live a busy life but when it’s match time, I try to clear everything out. The match against Shorecrest, [I couldn’t clear my mind],” Ansdell said. “I had been sick the week before and I had a bunch of schoolwork so I wasn’t focused and I wasn’t at the top of my game.”

He lost his first set, but was able to realize the mistakes he was making on the court through the help of head tennis coach Alberto Ramirez.

“In between set, we can talk to our coaches. That’s been a big help to me,” Ansdell said. “It’s hard to tell what your own mistakes are, but when someone else is objectively watching your game they’re able to give great advice about what you’re doing wrong.”

After that loss, Ansdell went on a hot streak. It wasn’t until the WesCo championship match that determined state tournament seeding that Ansdell would lose a match. Before that, he had won 15 straight games. Now he’s the No. 2 seed in the WesCo 3A South division heading into the state tournament.

Ansdell attributes his success as an athlete to his coaches and the people that he’s been able to train with. One person that sticks out from the others is fellow junior teammate Adam Lorraine.

“[Lorraine and I] are always pushing one another at practice. [It’s] really good to have him on the team because he’s a player [who]’s so great that I can hit against him and constantly feel challenged,” Ansdell said. “[Lorraine] is a great motivator for me because I always want to push myself and be better than him and we are both really competitive so we are always trying one-up each other.”

In light of Ansdell’s success, a new door of opportunity has cracked open and there’s now a chance of Ansdell opting to pursue a collegiate career in tennis.

“I’d really like to play in college. [The desire] has just come recently with all my improvements that I made over the summer. It always seemed really far away from me, but it’s coming to fruition now that I have the skills to play at the college level,” Ansdell said.

During last year’s state tournament, a local community college reached out to Ansdell, and has spurned the interests of a few schools.

The state tournament for tennis isn’t like the state tournament for other sports. Instead of having the state tournament within the same season, it takes place in the spring along with the women’s tennis state tournament, giving Ansdell two seasons worth of time to prepare and sharpen his game.

“I’m excited,” Ansdell said. “[The state tournament] is in the spring so I have plenty of time to stay on top of my game and keep on improving. My serve needs work as well as my overall game.”

His goal? The same as it is for all fierce competitors.

“My goal is to place,” Ansdell said. “Last year, [Breuer and I] were so close to getting top eight, and top eight get all awards and ribbons, so to get top eight would be awesome. It’s also about looking toward the future. Placing in the state tournament would show the [collegiate] coaches my worth as a tennis player.”

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