by Jenelyn Russo
Photo credit: Sarah Reid
View video interview here
When asked what he enjoys the most about playing tennis, it's hard for Teddy McEntee to find the words—a reflection of his true passion for the game.
"I don't know how to explain it," says McEntee. "Just the feeling of hitting a winner...just winning the point or even winning the set. There's something about the sport that I really enjoy."
The Servite High School sophomore began playing tennis as a freshman, following in his older brother Zac's footsteps. His playing years may be fewer than those of his competitors, but that hasn't diminished McEntee's impact for the Friars, both as a singles and a doubles player.
"Teddy brings a unique, raw athletic talent and energy to the court," says Servite's head varsity tennis coach, J.P. Jugo. "He was an outstanding freshman talent who started the season in singles, but moved right into our starting doubles lineup and came through with numerous clutch wins."
Building upon his successful freshman year, McEntee has personal goals for his sophomore season that include improving the mental aspect of his game.
"I'd like my mental game to be stronger and more stable," says McEntee. "A lot of tennis, I'd say about 90 percent, is mental."
Realizing that his later start in the sport may put him at a disadvantage, the 15-year-old sees his lack of experience less as a deficiency and more as a challenge.
"In order to get to that level and compete with them (tournament players with more experience), I'm going to have to train twice as hard," says McEntee, "and I've been doing that to get there."
He draws inspiration to achieve his goals from his biggest role models, his two older brothers.
On the mental side of the game, it's McEntee's oldest brother, Marty, who models determination and strength.
"If I can have the discipline that he has and carry myself as he does, that would be [great]," says McEntee.
And his middle brother, Zac, who plays tennis for the UConn Huskies, is who McEntee looks to for the technical side of the sport.
"He's definitely my biggest role model athletically and physically," says McEntee.
The long hours of training and competition require McEntee to lean not only on his brothers, but also his faith.
"Prayer will reassure me God will keep me safe; he'll keep me healthy," says McEntee. "I know I trust in him and have faith that he'll let me play as [well] as I can that day."
The Fullerton resident would enjoy the opportunity to play college tennis, but McEntee is focusing on the immediate challenge of improving his game as he represents the Friars.
"Tennis has taught me that in sports, and in life, it's not just about your skill set or physical strengths," says McEntee. "It's about your mental game."