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Dedication on the tennis court

Senior Jordan Hovis is on a roll heading into Tuesday’s Foothill League preliminary meet

Posted: May 2, 2009 9:01 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

West Ranch senior Jordan Hovis has been enjoying his best season on the tennis court, winning all of his matches during the second half of Foothill League play while leading the Wildcats to a second-place finish.

 
The West Ranch varsity tennis program is only three years old, but there is no question who has become the face of the young program.

For all three years, senior Jordan Hovis has been West Ranch’s top-seeded player, leading the Wildcats to a rapid evolution and an 8-2 Foothill League mark this season, which earned a second-place finish behind only undefeated Valencia.

“Jordan is the only No. 1 we have ever had,” says West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker. “Having a player like him to set an example is great for our team, and really for me. To have Jordan on the team makes coaching easy.”

During his varsity career, Hovis has posted a 137-25 record, which are the most wins in the school’s history and the highest winning percentage.

He also finished no lower than fourth in three appearances in the Spring Smash, and made it to the second round of the CIF singles tournament last year.

“I grew up playing a lot of sports, but I really like the individual element of tennis,” Hovis says. “I like that win or lose there’s no one to blame except yourself. But I like being part of a team too because you have guys backing you up, and you get to pull for your teammates, which makes it a lot more fun when you win because then you get to celebrate as a group.”

Hovis will continue to get to be part of a team next year when he attends Concordia on a full scholarship.

The honor is the first of its kind for West Ranch tennis.

“I’m excited that I know where I’m going because for a while it was up in the air between three schools, and now I know that I’ll be going to a beautiful school,” Hovis says. “It will be fun to be on a good team that plays hard and to get the chance to work with another great coach.”

Hovis’ work with Spiecker has been a major reason for his development.

The two routinely break down his matches to find ways to improve.

“Jordan has always had a very strong work ethic, but when he was younger he relied more on his natural, physical talent,” Spiecker says. “About a year and a half ago we started really analyzing his matches, which I think allowed him to really improve his mental approach. It’s gotten the point where he does most of the talking, and I just listen. I think it’s a major reason he’s been able to take his game to a higher level.”

Another reason for Hovis’ continued improvement is thanks to the countless hours he has spent practicing with fellow senior and best friend Beau Martin. The duo have combined to win over 80 percent of their varsity sets, totalling 251 victories.

“He’s a great teammate,” Martin says. “He’s allowed me to grow as a player because we talk out our matches, which is good because he’s a really smart kid. We play together every day so getting to play with someone as talented as Jordan has been very beneficial to my game.”

Spiecker sees the healthy rivalry that has developed between Hovis and Martin as a major reason for their personal and team success over the last three years.

“The way Jordan and Beau get along, and the friendship they have along with how they push each other sets the example that this team follows,” Spiecker says. “They both have great family support, too, so when they graduate we lose their families, too, which is too bad for our program. But I know both those guys will go on to great things because they are both so dedicated.”

He came back from 4-1 down versus Valencia No. 2 player Ben Inchalik to avenge one of his three Foothill League losses from the first half of the season, and he rallied from a 5-1 hole to score his first win against defending Foothill League champion, Canyon’s Jason Ferlianto.

“I think those wins showed just how far Jordan has come from a mental aspect,” Spiecker says. “In both those matches Jordan used his knowledge of the game to find ways to adjust and win.”

Hovis also saw his victory over the Foothill League’s top player. Tyler Gottshall of Valencia. as proof of his progression. His sweep versus the Vikings nearly led the Wildcats to their first win against Valencia, as West Ranch took a 6-6 tie into the final group of sets but fell just short, losing 10-8.

“I have been working on developing my game more and more each year,” Hovis says. “I try to incorporate new things into my game and play smarter and just be more well-rounded. When I was down 5-1 to Jason I knew I had to play better, and it made me think back to when I was down to Ben. I just dug deeper and got it done.”

There is no reason to think that Hovis won’t continue at Concordia.

Hovis is focused on not only the upcoming tennis postseason, but also his life beyond the court.

“I want to do something that would incorporate tennis and travel so I’m interested in maybe getting into photo journalism,” Hovis says. “I’m hoping to find something that allows me to see a lot of different places and stay involved in tennis.”

For now, Hovis main goal is having the best personal and team post-season in West Ranch history.

He is driven to help his team advance for the first time in school history.

“I hope we can make it to the second round,” Hovis said. “That would be a great way to end my career here, and I would love to get a chance to get back to the finals of the prelims. It would be really cool if it worked out that I got to play Beau in the finals so we’ll see what happens.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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