By Jeff Steers
(September 17, 2023 8:00 AM ET) During a match against Columbia Central High School, Drew Maples of Northwest High School was leading 5-0 in the second set of an eventual win.
He attacked the net after a serve, but his opponent placed a nice lob shot deep in the court.
Instead of just watching the shot fall into the court and accepting the loss of a point, Maples took off after the shot and hit it over his shoulder, over the net, and into his opponent’s court. When the No. 1 singles player from CCHS missed on an overhand smash, Maples earned the point.
That intensity is what makes Maples one of the top tennis players in Jackson County.
Despite only starting the sport as a freshman to “stay in shape for other sports,” Maples has excelled due to his ability to be intense and battle for every point.
Maples is 14-2 this season heading into action on Saturday. The two losses came at Mason – right before a big match against Western a couple of days later.
“Those two losses taught me to persevere in every match,” Maples said. “Tennis is all about your mindset.”
Maples got drubbed – 6-1 – in his opening match against Western. But came back to win in three sets, 6-1 and 6-4.
The senior has seen the rise of the Northwest tennis program. The Mounties won two matches his freshman year but turned it around with 14 wins last season.
New tennis courts may have something to do with that.
Maples said a couple of years ago the Mounties could not field a 12-man team. The new courts were opened last year and the road warriors – playing every match on the road due to the condition of their courts – soon enjoyed home cooking pretty much all season long.
“I can’t lie it was pretty cool last season,” Maples said of playing all regular-season matches at home.
Maples said baseball is his main sport, but basketball is his favorite, but he has learned to love the sport of tennis.
The senior expects to be done with athletics after his senior season.
“My mom is a physical therapist and I want to become a doctor,” Maples said.
Maples – a 4.0 student at NWHS – plans to become a dermatologist.
“Skin is the most important thing you have,” Maples said.
He has applied to the University of Michigan and could spend the next 12 years there.
“Sports teaches you how to persevere and challenges you physically,” Maple said.
Looks like those lessons may come in handy over the next decade for Maples.