Swinging into a new sport
Nevada Union senior Mark Clayton is a bit of an adventure seeker.
Football? Done it. Ditto for track, motorcycle riding, rock climbing. So when he began dating NU’s No. 1 girls tennis player, Julie Diss, another sport presented itself to him, one that he once had entertained tackling as a 10-year-old.
“I just love doing stuff” Clayton said. “And I looked at tennis as a challenge.”
While watching Diss play one fall day in Grass Valley, NU tennis coach Tom Isaac suggested Clayton pick up a racket and hit a few. Flash forward to the spring, and Isaac is not only still playing, he is making a major contribution to the boys tennis program.
Originally selected to play singles, Clayton has moved to the No. 1 doubles team, where he has posted a winning record on a team currently in the third place in the Capital Athletic League.
“When I suggested he hit a few, you could see right away he was an athlete,” Isaac said. “That he could step in and immediately play varsity is unusual, because we usually have a pretty big roster.”
On a cold and damp afternoon Tuesday, Clayton paired with sophomore Dan Cellery, only to be topped in straight sets by Rio Americano’s Henry Adams and Alan Tu, 6-4, 6-3. The loss was part of a 9-0 setback against the once-beaten Raiders, who are currently chasing Davis for league honors.
“We had seven seniors graduate from last year’s team, and Rio Americano has more experience,” Isaac said. “We’ve gotten better since the last time we played them.”
Isaac pointed to two matches in particular to emphasize his point. In the No. 1 singles match, Isaac said Danny Lake was a point away from going ahead 4-5 in the second set of his match with Erwin Briones. Briones rallied, however, took the game and eventually the set and match, 6-2, 6-4.
At No. 6 singles, NU’s Jeff Kerr – a former doubles partner with Clayton – led 5-1 in the second set, only to lose the set and match to Raider Alex Damron in a second-set tiebreaker.
“We still have to play Davis twice,” Isaac said. “It will be an uphill battle, but we are looking forward to it.”
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