Originally Published: May 2, 2016 6:55 p.m.
There’s a really good tennis player by the name of Dawson Turner, a 10th grader from Bradshaw Mountain High School, who last week made it through three-rounds of the State High School Tennis Tournament before losing in the quarter-finals to the person who won the title in 2015 - pretty darn good for a kid who primarily plays in a rural area.
His season singles record of 17-1 puts him in a category that few in Yavapai County have ever achieved.
His older sister Alyssa, now in college at Grand Canyon University, also played tennis at BMHS.
Dawson is a stellar student who enjoys Broadcast and TV film class and is giving thought to sports broadcasting as a possible career. He also entertains the idea of obtaining a tennis scholarship if his game continues to improve.
With two more years of high school tennis and working during the off season in the ATA program, which is coached by local pro Sterling Fetty, that improvement seems almost certain.
He took the time to answer some questions so we can know what makes Dawson tick - and the community will be watching closely to see how this story and the next couple years unfold for this interesting and driven young man.
Tell the readers a little bit about how and why you decided to take up the game of tennis.
I started playing tennis when I was 5 years old. My mom and my grandpa played tennis and got my sister to start playing and I wanted to try. I began by taking lessons in the summer with various coaches and by my eighth-grade year, I was playing more seriously. I began doing some local tournaments ... Now, play tournaments with ATA during the summer. Sterling Fetty runs this program and has me travel with the team around the Southwest and play in various team tennis tournaments. I also play in USTA tournaments throughout the year.
Before you took up tennis, what were - and what still are - some of the other loves of your life?
I enjoy being at the beach, boogie boarding and bodysurfing. I also enjoy riding quads and I used to race. I also enjoy playing all types of sports with my friends. My parents find me always dancing around the house, so you could say I enjoy dancing as well.
You will be an 11th grader this next year - are you looking ahead at colleges yet and do you plan on trying to go to a school where you still might be able to show your tennis skills?
I am keeping all my options open but I would definitely like to take my tennis skills to the next level. I know that college is in my future.
I’ve been told you’re a pretty smart kid - can you take that thought a little further?
I am in pre-AP classes and had a 4.0 last semester. I know that school is important and tennis helps me stay focused.
What kind of influence have your parents had on you in helping to guide you and provide opportunities for the future in school and sports?
My parents show me the importance of school and keep me on track. They have supported me the whole time with my school and tennis. They take me to matches down in Phoenix and Flagstaff. My mom is always looking for USTA tournaments. She is also always bugging me to get my homework done and to do my best.
What is the most fun being on a team - and what’s the hardest part about it?
The part I enjoy most about being on a team is the family we become. We all look out for each other and support each other. With my school team, as Tim McClintock as the coach, the hardest part is trying to identify the different skill levels.
Not to tip off your opponents, but what’s the best part of your tennis game and where are the areas of improvement you feel you still need?
I feel like I have really improved on return of serves and my backhands. I would like to improve my topspin for forehands and confidence in my second serve.
Tennis can be exhilarating, tedious and frustrating - give us a few examples you’ve had with the game.
I experienced the frustration recently with my match against Brandon Nguyen for PHS. I was winning the set by 5-0 and he brought it back to a 5-4 set. Luckily, I was able to pull out the match 6-4. The exhilarating part of tennis is when I am at State Tennis and am down a first set and come back after 2.5 hours to win the match.
Moments before you go on the court to play a match, what’s your mind-set?
I have butterflies in my stomach and I listen to music to calm my nerves. I think about a major influence in my tennis, my grandpa. He died three years ago and was my biggest fan. He played tennis with me every time I saw him and he was an excellent player himself.
Who’s your favorite player(s) on the tour and why?
My favorite player on the tour by far is Roger Federer. He is one of the classiest players I have seen on the court. I love his one-handed backhand, tweeners, and the respect he brings to the game. I would like him to win at least one more major.
Have you ever gotten frustrated enough on the court to throw your racquet? If so why - if not, how do you deal with the loss of points lost?
I have never thought about destroying my racket or throwing it but I have hit my shoe with the frame multiple times when my shot didn’t go the way I planned.
The future of tennis for Mr. Dawson - 2 years, 10 years, more?
As I have grown up playing the game, people have always said that tennis is a lifelong sport. I plan on playing it for as long as my body will let me.
Anything else you’d like to say that the readers might enjoy?
I have been Varsity 1 both years of high school and this year I was 14-0 in the regular season, got seeded at State (No. 7) and have made it to the quarterfinals. I am currently ranked 83 in the Southwest for USTA.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.