One last hurrah

Photo by Zack EldridgeLa Porte’s Andy Emmons is aiming to make his last season donning the orange and black a special one.

La PORTE — For Andy Emmons, he wants to make his last prep year a remarkable one.

The La Porte senior standout is striving to have a special last prep season on the tennis court, while at the same time guiding the Slicers to new heights.

"It's not even just me, but everyone on this team wants to go as far as possible,” Emmons said. “And we all want to do it together, so it's not any individuals out here, it's one team.”

A year ago, Emmons transferred from La Lumiere School and ended up thriving during the campaign.

He immensely aided La Porte's 16-6 record and won in the sectional over New Prairie's Nick Boyd 6-2, 6-1 to advance in the individual state tournament. Emmons then fell to a stout player in Valparaiso's Evan Cecchini, 6-2, 6-2, to end his junior season.

He tallied a 16-6 mark last year at No. 1 singles, where he'll likely play again this fall.

“Andy has worked super hard in the offseason,” La Porte coach Don Varda said. “The kid has put in the time. He's changed some of his grips. He's changed his serve. We did a lot of work with him. A lot of people have worked with him, our different coaches and different friends of the program.

"He's a coach's dream come true. Because he went out and did all of this on his own."

Varda added Emmons' best attribute at tennis is knowing how to win, in addition to his versatility.

“I think it's his ability to do different things,” the coach said. “He can hit short. He can hit long. He can hit hard. He can defend. He can play all four sections of the court. He's a very smart player.”

While Varda praised his tennis skills, Emmons believes taking command and not leaving any player out will best serve the squad.

“Tristen (Poe) and I are captains this year, so I definitely want to take a leadership role,” Emmons said. “I want to try and get everyone involved on this team. All the incoming freshmen, anyone who hasn't played tennis before, I want them all to feel the spirit that we had last year.”

In the offseason to gear up for the campaign, Emmons trained every day, besides competing in USTA Tournaments every weekend. He added everyone on the varsity team has trained every day.

For the USTA Tournaments, Emmons would primarily play in Chicago. He doesn't doubt that experience will benefit him and his teammates.

“We all have a lot of match experience right now, so nerves shouldn't really be an issue,” he said. “We all know what pressure feels like. We all know how to handle it. We're all ready.”

In addition to his tennis exploits, Emmons is a remarkable student, too.

He aims to earn all 'A' grades. Emmons is taking Advanced Placement Courses this year as well, with AP Calculus, AP Government and AP Physics.

“All my focus is on academics,” he added. “I love school. It's fun. Of course, there's some lows and some highs, but I love school. I'll study what I need to.”

Emmons mentioned he'd like to attend Indiana University after graduating next year and hopes to receive some academic scholarships in the process. But he said there's still lots of traveling to do to see exactly what school he prefers, however, his main focus is currently IU.

Emmons also hasn't entirely ruled out playing college tennis.

For extracurricular activities, he participates in National Honor Society and American Sign Language Honor Society.

Varda feels Emmons' ability to connect with teammates and his proper mindset are key.

"He's been friends with these guys all summer," the coach added. "He just came in early in the season and said, 'Coach, I want to help everybody out. I want to be a mentor. I'm really pumped for the season.' This is his senior year. He just came in with the right attitude. And he's absolutely worked super hard every minute."

With all of his traits, Emmons seems primed to spearhead a robust Slicers' season.

“We need to stay together as a team,” he said. “There's nothing more important to me and Tristen (Poe) being captains than to bring this team together. Because once we're together, we all know we can do this.”

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