Greensburg Salem 6th-grader driven to excel on tennis court
Loren Byers hits a fuzzy ball around for up to 20 hours a week in search of his dream.
The Greensburg Salem sixth-grader yearns to walk on the court one day as a professional tennis player.
“I love the sport,” Byers said. “I like the competition and to play in tournaments.”
Earlier this month, Byers was ranked sixth in Pennsylvania in the 12-years-and-under category by the United States Tennis Association.
“My ultimate goal is win all the Grand Slams (the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) and be No. 1 in the world,” Byers said, adding he knows achieving either goal will be a monumental feat.
Byers often battles older players, said his mother, Rachel Byers.
“In this area, (tennis) is not as popular, so Loren has to play with older people,” she said. “He'll play with someone in his 50s and college players.”
Byers, who began playing when he was 7 years old, said he enjoys competing against older players.
“College and older men play fair, and they never give up,” he said. “They pretty much try to beat me.”
He said he has won more matches against older players than he has lost.
Loren practices his ground strokes at both the Greensburg Racket Club and The Club in Monroeville. Two coaches help refine his game.
“It works well because one works with his strategy and technique,” Rachel Byers said. “The other one works with his footwork and speed.”
Both Rachel Byers and her husband, Alex Byers, give up many hours of free time taking their son to competitions — something others involved in tennis told them would happen.
“You've got to travel to get the competition. It's a commitment, but we've made the commitment,” Alex Byers said.
Her son loves playing tennis, Rachel Byers said.
“It's a lot for his age, but it's a commitment he's willing to make,” she said.
Tennis has helped their son to grow, both parents said.
“It really has,” Alex Byers said. “It's up to him to perform. He can't count on anyone else to help him. It's really matured him to learn how to lose and communicate with people.”
He will be satisfied with whatever his son accomplishes — professional tennis star or not — as long as he does his best, Alex Byers said.
“We feel the journey along the way has allowed him to be a better person,” he said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.