Sewickley Academy's Ross prepares for national championships
Junior tennis player Luke Ross of Sewickley will have some adjustments to make at the United States Tennis Association Boys' 18 & 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla., from July 17-24.
Ross, 17, qualified as one of the top five players in 18s in the USTA Middle States section.
In its 50th year, the tournament will have more than 380 players in the two age groups.
The likes of former Grand Slam singles champions John McEnroe (1976) and Vitas Gerulaitis (1972) are past 18s champions.
Budi Susanto, Ross' coach, said Ross' playing style is not suited to clay.
Ross was eliminated early in 16s last year.
“He has (a) very aggressive game from the baseline,” Susanto said. “He attacks all the time (and) likes to play (a) short rally.
“Most players will rally longer on clay (and) make (their) opponent lose balance, running them around the court all day.
“Luke plays (just) the opposite.”
To prepare, Ross has been attending a tennis academy in Florida this month.
He said he wants to improve to impress college coaches.
Ross won WPIAL and PIAA Class AA singles titles as a junior at Sewickley Academy this year.
He hopes to play for an NCAA Division I team after high school.
Ross was one of six players selected to represent the Middle States section at the Boys 18s National Team Championship at the University of Illinois-Urbana on July 30-Aug. 2.
He also has qualified for the National Championships-Boys 18 & 16 at Kalamazoo, Mich., next month.
Susanto expects Ross to be tested in every event.
“The level in USTA league (is) much stronger (than) high school,” Susanto said. “Most players he competes (against) are aiming to play for (a) college or (professionally).
“(They) will be the best of the best.”
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.