Brendan Adams didn’t always play tennis. It wasn’t until his freshman year at the urging of friends and teammates, Yuma Olsen and Luke Reilly, that the Atascadero High School senior even picked up a racket.
But after a year on the junior varsity team and another on varsity, Adams has emerged as a force in the PAC 8, securing back-to-back individual league titles and compiling a 108-6 record over his past two seasons as the Greyhound’s co-captain — in addition to being named an academic scholar with a 4.20 GPA.
For his excellence on and off the court, Adams has been named The Tribune 2016 Tennis County Player of the Year.
Developing his game
“He picked up a racket his freshman year and fell in love with the game of tennis,” Atascadero coach Connie Baird said. “He was just determined to learn the game.”
After making the junior varsity team his freshman year, Adams quit playing soccer to focus on his passion full time, taking group lessons at the Avila Bay Club and taking on pro coach Tim Foley.
Foley travels around the world but still makes time for Adams when he needs it.
“He helped me improve a lot,” Adams said.
Foley visited the area last winter, and Adams credits this time as crucial to his development.
“A lot of it’s mental,” Adams said. “(Foley) keeps it really simple. My gameplan every match is don’t get mad, don’t miss and don’t get tired.”
The plan has worked, as Adams used an inside-out forehand, big serve and patience to dismantle a talented PAC 8 league for the last two years, earn Atascadero’s first two singles titles in school history and two invitations to the prestigious Ojai Tournament.
The friends that got Adams into the sport, Reilly and Olsen? They enjoyed success of their own this year, winning the PAC 8 doubles title as the sixth seed.
Leadership in nicknames
Baird called Adams “retriever” his junior year because he would always return everything, something extra demoralizing in the sport of tennis. What about this year? “Golden boy,” Baird said, for his hair and stellar play.
Adams, along with his teammates, also gave everyone nicknames of their own.
One of six seniors, including co-captain Dean Menigoz, Adams had the task of announcing the team’s lineup before every match. The tradition of announcing each player with their nickname, for example “Handy Andy” and “Forever Freshman,” is one passed down from previous team captains.
“I was the one that got to announce them every match, so that was pretty fun,” Adams said.
Adams will continue his academic and tennis career at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes to play both doubles and singles. Adams chose Lewis and Clark over Cal Lutheran, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, among others.
“I thought I would be the most challenged and successful there,” he said. “They have a good Division 3 team, and they got up to 30th in the nation, so I knew it would be tough. But I knew it would be good competition.”
Adams added that he thought he could have gone to a “better team” but would rather compete for a starting job than sit on the bench somewhere.
“I think I’ll do good academically up there,” Adams said. “I like the smaller school size.”
Adams is still undecided on a major. But one thing seems for sure, if he goes after his goals like he did with tennis, there’s little doubt he’ll excel.
“He’s a great kid and a great leader,” Baird said. “He’s going to be an asset for the team at Lewis and Clark.
“He’s only going to improve. He’s going to a contributor.”
The Tribune’s 2016 All-County Tennis Team
Player of the Year: Brendan Adams, Atascadero
Zach Hilty, San Luis Obispo, sophomore
Luke Llaurado, Mission Prep, freshman
Andrew Arcangel, Arroyo Grande, senior
Chaz Darrow, Templeton, junior
Yuma Olsen and Luke Reilly, Atascadero, both seniors
Joseph Goryance and Tyler Tencati, Arroyo Grande, senior and junior
Alex Hasley and Cole Westwood, SLO, junior and junior