By Colin Bado, TSB Sports Writer
To the layman, tennis may appear to be a mediocre sport comprised of intellectuals flaunting collared shirts, striking a ball aimlessly back and fourth while lacking the tenacity of the generic athlete.
Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, tennis is an intrinsic battle between your mind and the counterpart glaring at you just beyond the net. And while tennis may be an afterthought in the minds of high school communities that are replete with successful football, basketball, baseball, and soccer programs, McKinney North is an exception. Led by head coach Jon Stein, North has created a tennis tradition second to none, where winning is expected.
For North senior Jordan Hart, Stein’s mentality is acknowledged with the utmost sincerity. Hart is the two-time defending state champion, and tennis has been a way of life for over a decade.
He has successfully participated in a sport that demands every ounce of mental focus. Practicing up to 32 hours a week, Hart has endured scorching summer heat and bone-chilling winters in order to reach his full potential. Hart epitomizes the quintessential high school tennis player. Humble and hardworking on and off the court, he has earned a much-deserved scholarship to Davidson College in North Carolina.
“Davidson is a great academic school,” said Hart. “I plan on studying economics.”
Along with a premier tennis program and a great coaching staff, Davidson is one of the top liberal arts schools in the nation.
“I want to progressively move up in the program and help the tennis team compete for a national championship someday,” said Hart.
Hart is no stranger to success. The tennis prodigy is seeking his third straight state title.
“Winning again would be the icing on the cake to my senior year,” said Hart. “I want to do a good job representing my school.”
Hart’s success has played a pertinent role within the North tennis program, but Stein’s dedication to excellence is the foundation of North’s outstanding track record. Stein is entering is twelfth year at McKinney North and has already surpassed the 300 win mark, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down any time soon.
“I’ve been here many, many years, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a great group of kids come through,” said Stein. “Early on we set the standard that we are going to win. It’s a get with it and get with the program mindset. The kids take it very seriously to keep that tradition going.”
The player coach relationship is a dynamic that is difficult to put into words, but after being together for four years, Stein and Hart’s relationship is far from the norm.
“We engage in healthy conversations,” said Stein. “We discuss strategy and what we’re seeing on court.”
When Hart graduates this spring, his absence will be felt immediately.
“Jordan has been our rock,” said Stein. “He is a quiet leader. Jordan is a humble guy who works very hard. He carries himself well and everyone respect him. And of course I’ll miss his sense of humor.”
Individual tennis is one of the loneliest sports. Matches last for hours, and if you’re not playing well you suffer on your own. It’s not a game for the feeble-minded.
“You have to be at your best all the time,” said Hart. “It’s not like other sports where you can rely on your teammates to pick up the slack. It’s a grueling sport mentally.”
Hart’s legacy wont be forgotten at McKinney North, but as he moves on to compete at a national level in college, he’ll retain many great memories that the tennis program at North has given him.
“Coach (Josh) Greenwood and Stein are the best coaches in the nation. I’m going to miss them the most along with my teammates,” said Hart.
Hart’s journey for another state title begins with the quarterfinal match against Zan Rive of Fort Worth Arlington Heights on April 29.