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Editor’s note: Randy Krejci, a retired teacher, coach and administrator in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, remains active in local sports and serves as commissioner of the Mississippi Valley Conference.
By Randy Krejci, community contributor
Each spring as the weather improves, tennis’ popularity gains momentum and people young and old get out and enjoy the sport of a lifetime.
Two local tennis players have taken different routes to success, both showing through hard work and persistence good things can happen.
Brady Anderson, a recent graduate of Linn-Mar High School, carved out a chunk of history with a championship in last year’s Class 2A singles division. Anderson swept through 12 consecutive games to win, 6-0, 6-0, becoming the first player to hammer a shutout in the high school tennis finals since Art Andrews of Iowa City High in 1954 and 1955.
This past season, Anderson teamed with Trevor McCann in hopes of capturing a state doubles title. The two finished second to Iowa City West’s David DiLeo and Karl Wenzel. Last week, he and his sister, Ellie, finished third in the state coed meet.
Anderson will head to Coe College and play for Coach Eric Rodgers the next four years.
After a much later start to tennis, but with an equally impressive showing in doubles at Marion High School, Brandon Hornback teamed with Michael Anderson last season and became the winningest duo in Marion tennis history.
Hornback continued his tennis career as the No. 4 player at Wartburg this past season, helping guide the Knights to a third-place finish in the Iowa Conference tournament.
Though Hornback didn’t start lessons and formal training until well into his high school experience, both he and Anderson show dedication to this sport, regardless of when one starts, pays off with big dividends — in high school, college and well into adulthood if one continues playing after school competition.
Hornback also experienced some history-making at Wartburg. The Knights knocked off always-powerful Luther for the first time in more than 30 years. Hornback won his singles and No. 2 doubles match in that historic win.
Hornback was a tennis teacher last summer through the Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission and will continue his instruction this summer at the Nike tennis camps at Stanford University.
“I want to broaden my connections with others in the tennis field,” Hornback said. “From my experiences, even if you lose or things aren’t going the way you want them to, just keep at it.”
That’s good advice for young people in any sport or in the game of life.
Hornback and Anderson are dedicated competitors, possess the right attitude and are goal-setters, placing team accomplishments ahead of individual achievement.
“Hard work pays off,” Hornback said. “It is important to enjoy the game. It can be hard to play day in and day out, but when you are having fun, it makes everything a lot easier.”
Maybe all of us — young and old — will get out and follow their lead.