If prep tennis players had a "prime" in their careers, you could definitely say Tyler Schwefringhaus is there right now. While his list of accomplishments grows, he continues to look forward to the next step. His passion for competition on the court began in 2006 when he was 12 years old. Tyler's parents, Scott and Jamie, introduced their son to tennis because of Scott's history with the game. Scott Schwefringhaus played tennis at Springstead High and was eager to get his son involved.
First, Tyler tried out for and made the Powell Middle tennis team. As a freshman last year, he became acquainted with John and Louise Downey. Tyler has been progressing solidly ever since under the keen coaching eyes of the Downeys.
"Over the course of the last year, Tyler has come a long way," Louise Downey said. "Besides the fact that he has a lot more confidence, he is also much more patient on the court."
The Downeys are the hub of youth tennis in Hernando County, running the Nature Coast Tennis Foundation, Ace Performance Tennis and the local chapter of the USTA. The couple also organize tournaments and leagues.
Tyler is one of their star pupils, winning the Third Annual Ace Performance Junior Doubles Championship with Andrew Lund last year and capturing the Fourth Annual Nature Coast Tennis Foundation Junior Singles Championship last month in a win over Lund, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
"It was a long, grueling match," Tyler's mother, Jamie said. "In the end, even though Andrew lost, both of them were excited about how good it was."
In December, the local Junior Team Tennis program attended the USTA Florida Sectional in Daytona Beach where Tyler starred. He earned the Sportsmanship Award for the entire event, and his teammates voted him the team MVP for the tournament.
In his first year at Nature Coast Technical, Tyler became an instrumental part of the Shark's program that finished third place in Class 2A, District 6. Tyler himself placed second in the district in No. 2 Doubles with senior Willy Holobinka. He was 11-2 overall in doubles play this season, and 5-5 in singles competition.
His pride and emotion have him primed for a bigger season this spring with Nature Coast coach Tom Brown. Tyler likely will move from the team's No. 4 singles player to No. 3 and have an opportunity to advance past district play with his No. 2 doubles tandem if he can continue his improvement. With Tyler's biggest physical strength being his hard serve, and the other facets of his game rounding into form, expect to see big things from the budding player.
"This year, I really just want (Nature Coast) to make state," Tyler said. "They made state the year before I got here, and we really want to get back."
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