Originally Published: May 27, 2014 6 a.m.
Dylan Darr is the only graduating senior on the Prescott High School tennis team this year, and is a stellar young man. His path in the game of tennis has been an upward spiral and an example of what this game can be to not only youth but also everyone who finds its passion. Our best to Dylan as he ventures to college and the next chapter of his life.
Q. You have just graduated from PHS. Give us a short lowdown of your four years there with academics, tennis and other curriculum and activities.
Dylan: Over the past four years of high school, I have been involved with AP classes, National Honor Society, and various clubs including Math Club and Chemistry Club. Juggling my academic and extracurricular activities with four years of tennis has been an accomplishment.
Q. What prompted you to play on the tennis team, as opposed to other sports you might have tried?
D. I started playing tennis with my family over the summer entering eighth grade. I just found that I had natural talent in tennis, good hand-eye coordination, and the physical ability to play tennis. By the time freshman year rolled around, I knew that tennis was a great fit for me, more so than other sports.
Q. As the only senior on this year's varsity team, did you feel any responsibility toward being a leader?
D. Being the lone senior on the team this year, I definitely felt the responsibility to be a leader for my teammates. I tried to lead by example, hoping that by playing my heart out and leaving it all on the court I could inspire them to do the same. Jack Bradley, Nick Marroquin, and I (top three varsity) were always quick to pump up our teammates and speak to the team after a win or a loss, regardless of the score.
Q. Your best team experience and your worst?
D. The best experience I've had with the PHS tennis team was either beating Cactus Shadows or Bradshaw (both this year). We came into the Cactus Shadows match a severe underdog. I think they were ranked #5 in state and undefeated at the time, and PHS had never beaten Cactus Shadows in team history. We won three of the singles and then two out of the three doubles to take the match 5-4. Beating Bradshaw is always sweet, but especially considering they had been on a 39 consecutive win streak until they traveled to our courts. My worst experience was this year in my doubles match against Flagstaff High. My partner, Brandon Nguyen, and I were ahead 7-4, 40-0, in an eight-game pro set, and lost. We lost a couple of easy points, and all of a sudden we had lost in a seven-point tiebreak, 12-10. It was a brutal collapse and left a nasty taste in our mouths, but I think it was a learning experience for both of us.
Q. How has the game of tennis affected your life up to this point?
D. Tennis has had an enormous impact on developing who I am today. Its impact goes far beyond winning and losing. Playing on the tennis team has allowed me to develop friendships with fantastic people, and meet new people everywhere I travel. During tennis season, my confidence is through the roof on and off the courts, and I have developed important skills like leadership and efficiency.
Q. You have a younger brother Jack who was a freshman this year on the team, and you two played as a doubles team a couple times. How did that go?
D. I loved having a brother on the team this year. It's great to have someone that I can always talk to about whatever situation I'm in, and I love giving him advice to help him with his game since I have most likely dealt with the same things as him already. It's amazing to see him improve and mature in his game at such a fast rate. We only played doubles a few times this year due to other lineup issues and injuries, but I enjoyed playing together. Despite some heated arguments in the middle of some matches, I think we were able to learn from playing with each other.
Q. Do you see the game of tennis as a lifetime sport and will you try to play in college?
D. Yes, I definitely see tennis as a lifetime sport that people can still play even as they grow older. I plan on continuing to play tennis in college through intramural and club activities. I will be going down to Tucson and the University of Arizona this fall. I plan to pursue a bachelor's degree in business, perhaps marketing, accounting, or finance. I also plan on continuing to play tennis through intramurals. I'm not sure yet what I will do after college.
Q. Who are your favorite players on the tour and why?
D. My favorite players on the tour are Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Nadal is the ultimate warrior. I love watching him run down everything, and seeing the action on the ball from his massive topspin. Nadal's 2008 Wimbledon final against Roger Federer was the greatest match I have ever watched. Novak has an amazing ability to stretch his body in unreal positions to hit a ball back and stay in the point. Additionally his serve return is phenomenal; the best in the game. I also enjoy watching Brooklyn Decker, Andy Roddick's wife. Oh, are we just talking players?
Q. What role have your parents played in helping you learn the game of tennis?
D. My parents got me interested in tennis by suggesting that I try it out in eighth grade. They were the ones that taught me the basic steps and gave me advice. I would not be at the stage I am in tennis now if not for them. They have always dedicated their time to hitting with me, watching my matches, and supporting me through the ups and downs. I am so grateful for them.
Q. Any parting comments?
D. I want to thank everyone who comes to the PHS tennis team matches and supports our boys and girls. It is such a confidence booster to look up after a winning a point and see a crowd of people applauding and cheering.
Chris Howard is a local UPTA Pro with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or email@example.com.