After a grueling two hours and five minutes on the tennis court earlier in May, Poland junior Garrett Gardner beat Sid Ahuja from Hawkins High School in three sets. The win gave him the opportunity to move into the state finals over the weekend at The Ohio State University.
In another long series, Gardner went into round 16 of the state finals that lasted three hours for three sets. Gardner fought hard, but was knocked out of contention after posting a 4-6, 7-5, and 6-3. The player to whom he lost ended up placing third in the state.
For Gardner, it means another year of improving and preparing for a repeat trip in his senior year. The Poland junior said he is in the sport that he is most passionate about.
Photo by Mike Capps, Town Crier correspondent
Poland tennis star Garrett Gardner was focused on going to state during the early May photo. Gardner headed to Columbus over the weekend to play for the singles state title on May 31. It was a three-hour match that ended in Gardner coming up short in round 16.
"My life has been nothing but tennis," Gardner said. "I started out as early as five years old and have been around the sport ever since. My mother brought me out one day to the park, she gave me a racket, and I instantly found a liking to hitting a ball around the court. I've been playing as long as I can remember."
Gardner has played all three years at Poland and is looking forward to his fourth and final season in 2014. He has played for the varsity team since he was a freshman. Over the past three years, he has learned a lot and knows what it takes to win a match.
"Many think having great strokes, huge serves, quick feet, etc. wins a match," he said. "My biggest weapon on the court is my concentration. The mental game is almost double the importance on the court than the physical game."
He also tries to find a good balance of playing matches and getting in practice. He loves to work on strategy and composure on the court, but also realizes the importance of having a day for rest, too.
Gardner also credits his coach, Annie Marian, for guiding him along.
"My coach and I have known each other for a very long time," he said. "She helped me through my junior years as well as my high school career. Coach Marian has helped me through the toughest of times. She is one of those coaches you would love to have on a team."
Marian said Gardner has a good attitude and has served as a great co-captain for the PSHS Boys Tennis Team.
"Garrett has a good attitude and has been a great co-captain for the team this year," Marian said. "He is always positive and works hard everyday, practice or match. He is also a strong competitor and gives each match his all. He is an inspiration for everyone on the team. He works hard and is successful because of it. He also motivates the other players because of his success and because he challenges everyone on the team."
Gardner's efforts and skill on the courts has moved him into the number one singles spot for Poland. Going into the state finals he boasted a record of 24-0.