After auspicious freshman season, no one overlooks Wydra
by Staff Writer
Those early days of elementary-school recess were sometimes torture for Ryan Wydra. Back then, when the sides were being picked for school-yard games such as kickball, Wydra was a bit of an outsider.
“Nobody ever saw me as athletic,” Wydra recalled. “I was never good at team sports. I was usually picked last – or close to last.”
Then, when he was about 10 years old, he started playing tennis on a recreational level.
“When I played tennis, and I was out there on my own and didn’t have a team relying on me, I had a new sense of focus,” he said. “I worked on it and worked on it, and the better that I got, the more athletic I got. Tennis really changed my life. The next thing you know, it’s six years later, and here I am.”
At the moment, “here” is the top of the heap among Lake Norman-area boys tennis players. A 6-foot-1 right-hander who recently wrapped up his freshman season at Hough High School, Wydra dominated the I-MECK 4A conference this spring, going unbeaten in his seven regular-season league matches, en route to a tournament championship.
He also won a match at the 4A Western Regional tournament, helping him win The Herald Weekly’s 2011 Boys Tennis Player of the Year award.
That’s pretty heady stuff for a rookie who wasn’t even sure exactly where he’d fall in the Huskies’ starting lineup before the season began.
“I went into Hough thinking that maybe I was going to be the No. 2 seed and (teammate) Collin (Black) was going to take the No. 1 spot,” Wydra said. “He was a junior, and he was undefeated as the No. 1 seed from North Meck.
“When I became the No. 1 seed and I knew that I had just barely beaten the person who was undefeated at No. 1 last year (in a preseason challenge match), it definitely gave me a confidence boost for what I could do this season.”
Wydra wasted little time making a name for himself, vanquishing all the conference’s No. 1 seeds. After a while, those dreaded days at elementary-school recess seemed like a lifetime ago.
“When I was playing during the season, I heard some kids saying, ‘That’s the No. 1 seed! That’s the freshman for Hough! That’s the guy who hasn’t lost a singles match yet! I hear he’s very athletic!’” Wydra said. “They didn’t really know me. They didn’t know where I had come from. They didn’t know that I used to be the last kid picked in kickball.
“I didn’t let it go to my head, but I felt pride in my game, and I felt very glad that I could play a sport that I love – a sport that changed my life.”