FORT WAYNE – Junior Alex Stavretis figured his advancement through the ranks as a singles player for Northrop would be a bit more gradual and a chance at a school record wasnt even a consideration.
But things changed last year when Stavretis, who played at No. 3 as a freshman, jumped to No. 1 singles when a potential top singles player moved to Ohio.
In his first year at No. 1 singles, Stavretis finished 16-8. He improved on that this year, going 20-2 heading into sectional play this week and is in position to have the most career wins in school history.
I got thrown into the fire, Stavretis said of playing No. 1 singles as a sophomore.
No. 3 singles is all about just keeping the balls in (bounds), and I had a transition to play more aggressively. (No. 1 singles opponents) move the ball around a lot more on you, and that first year was just sticking me in there and keeping my head up throughout it all.
(Coach Shane Crager) said you are going to get beat, and it is a tough transition to make. As long as you keep your head up and realize you will win a lot of matches eventually in your career, you will learn from what is happening (as a sophomore) for the next two years.
Stavretis is 52-15 in almost three seasons (including 16-5 at No. 3 singles in 2011) and is in range of Dan Coroians 65 wins for tops in Bruins history.
When I started playing, I had no idea that is even an achievable thing for me, Stavretis said of the all-time wins record at Northrop. To be able to play varsity my freshman year really helped out a lot. Now that I know it is there, I really have that drive to get it now.
Stavretis began playing tennis at age 12, at the same time as his older brother Yanni, who was 30-14 in his career at No. 1 and No. 2 singles for the Bruins in 2009 and 2010.
I just learned from everything that (Yanni) did and eventually got to where I am now, he said.
Much like his moving up the ranks at Northrop (16-6), Stavretis tennis game has improved rapidly.
He has really improved his game by taking lessons and playing in USTA tournaments, Crager said. He is someone who studies the game of tennis and is always thinking how to improve.
Despite the individual accomplishments, Crager said Stavretis is the ultimate team player.
He is a great teammate who thinks about the team before himself, Crager said. Even if he loses, he will want to know how the team is doing. He gets the team together on weekends and hits with them. Even if it is the last player on our team, he will practice with them. Most really good players want to practice with someone of the same ability level or better. During the girls season, he comes out and hits with them. I made him the captain, and he is a great role model for the other players.