BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Senior Luke Baylis finished his fall tennis season being named Mr. Tennis, winning the state championship in his flight and signing to continue his career at Michigan State University.
“I was pretty surprised,” he said about hearing the news he received Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association Bob Wood Mr. Tennis Award.
Chas Claus, head coach for Clarkston Boys Varsity Tennis, added Baylis was a runaway choice for the award.
“Usually the award has a lot of debating and a lot of people saying my kid is pretty good,” he said. “From what I have heard it was a clear cut choice to the point that it was very ‘this is the guy, this is obviously the guy.’”
Baylis finished the season with a 29-1 record, making his career record 110-14.
“It was definitely a great season,” he shared. “The team overall did really well. I saw a lot of improvement from everyone.”
Baylis added it was one of the tougher season for him.
“I had to stay mentally tough the whole season,” he said. “I think I really improved throughout the whole season. I had one loss in the middle of the season that really helped me move forward. It helped me win the state tournament and I was really excited.”
He added the loss helped him to refocus.
“To go out and swing,” Baylis explained. “No pressure. Don’t worry about the pressure, just have fun. Once I started to have fun, I started to play better. Before I knew it I was winning the state championship.”
Baylis played for the varsity team for four years and spend three years competing on Singles No. 1 court. He only lost to four different players during his high school career, two of them were also Mr. Tennis winners.
“Luke is not only a great player but a great leader,” said Claus. “A lot of players of his caliber a lot of times they will do private lessons or appear on the team for matches, not necessarily participate in everything. From the first day he stepped on with this team he was out not only to work hard himself but to really help the people around him. Great players don’t make lesser players better. Luke made every single player he played with play better. He worked with them, encouraged them, caring about the outcome of their matches. His whole career he only lost to four different players which is amazing. You are seeing the best of the best and to only have four guys your entirety of your high school career who can beat you.”
Baylis started picking up tennis when he was around 3 to 4 years old.
“When I could stand, I pretty much picked it up,” he smiled, adding both his sisters and his parents played the sport. “When I was really little I would hit on the garage door of my house. I just had a passion for it when I was younger and it just carried forward since.”
He added he likes it because it’s a lot of fun.
“What I like about tennis is it’s all on you, you can’t really blame other people on what’s going on,” Baylis said. “It’s got the team aspect in terms of your match contributes to the team, which is awesome, but at the same time you have to focus on your match. You can’t make up excuses – it’s my fault if I lose or if I win.”
Baylis heads to MSU in the fall to continue playing tennis and continue his education. He is debating between studying pre-med or mechanical engineering as he chooses between his two passions – math and science.
“I am not sure if it will be becoming a doctor or becoming an engineer,” he said. “I think once I get there, I will be able to figure it out and what I want to do.”
He enjoys being part of CHS’ student leadership and helping with events like Homecoming and charity week, which is the last week of January 2020.
“I like being involved in the community,” Baylis added.
His advice to aspiring athletes is to have fun with the sport.
“If you aren’t enjoying it then it’s not worth playing,” Baylis said. “You’ve got to have fun. You’ve got to play loose. Don’t worry about the result. Just focus on having fun. I know when I was younger I wasn’t the greatest player, but you can’t think of all the losses you have – learn from them and move on. What you do now isn’t going to define you in 2-3 years. You are going to keep developing. Just keep trying.”
His parents are Liza and Larry.