Blue Springs junior Luke David had many of his classmates asking him the same question.
“There are people who I don’t even know the first name of, asking me if I am the one going to state,” David said.
Indeed, the junior is going to the Class 2 state tennis singles tournament, which begins at 9 a.m. Friday at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
David finished second in the Class 2 District 14 tournament, then went on to defeat Rockhurst’s Andrew Kopulos 6-3, 6-2 in sectionals to be the first Wildcat to advance to state for the first time “in at least 15-20 years,” according to head coach Anna Cole.
“You already hear about our girls tennis player Caitlyn (Sporing) going to state and doing well,” David said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, that would be awesome (for me to do the same thing).’ I fall in the top 16 boys singles players (in the state) now.”
The path to the state tournament has been a unique one for David. He didn’t start playing tennis until he was in the eighth grade. He had been playing baseball and basketball, but he said he didn’t have the natural build to have a future in either sport.
That’s when he decided to give tennis a try. It ended up working out for him as he’s been Blue Springs’ No. 1 singles player for the past two years. Cole said most of the players he will see at state train year round and have been playing since they were 5 or 6 years old.
“The fact that he picked up a racket three years ago as an eighth grader and now is going to state, is astounding alone,” Cole said. “He goes against kids who have been playing since they were 5 or 6, and holds his own.”
David, on the other hand, just plays with his dad once or twice a week and occasionally gets lessons.
“I’ve gotten better because I have played people better than me at No. 1,” David said. “I have gotten better every single year, and that’s all I can ask for.
“Pretty much everyone else at state is paying $10,000 a year to go hit at a club. I guarantee I will be the shortest span of playing tennis at state. I pretty much just learned from my dad (Daniel David).”
In his sectional match with Kopulos, David had to change the way he normally plays. Instead of going with a smashing forearm shot or any other strong shot, David decided to be patient.
“I just tried to rally with the point until he made an unforced error,” David said. “That hasn’t been my strategy most of the season because I get really bored doing that.”
Cole credits David’s success to his work ethic.
“I am ecstatic for Luke. He is one of our hardest workers, especially in the offseason,” Cole said. “He picks up the racket the most. It was exciting to see him have some success, and finally giving Blue Springs a good rap sheet.
“That was the best match I saw him play all season. He was up at the net and hitting his corners really well. He was hitting volleys down by his toes. And people beside me were saying, ‘How is he getting to that?’”
Now, he’ll have a chance to do the same at state against more experienced players.
“Honestly, I am not expecting much from it,” David said. “I played most of the guys there. I am not the best there, but I am grateful to be going to state. I am going to try and have fun.”