The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


May 14, 2014

One goal down, one still coming for Gwin

ENID, Okla. — Enid’s Zach Gwin already has won his toughest competition going into the No. 2 doubles with Tyler Hallett at the Class 6A state tennis tournament, which begins Friday at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center.

Gwin was one of only 24 accepted nationally into Rice University’s architecture school, considered among the nation’s best.

“It’s a dream come true,” Gwin said. “I’m still not over that. It’s a big honor just to get in. The education I get there will pay itself off.’’

Gwin was chosen over “hundreds of applications.’’ He hadn’t made the first or the second cuts.

“It was definitely last minute,’’ he said. “There are world class students there so I just happy to be there. I’m going to have to work incredibly hard to keep up.’’

He takes pride for the balance in his life between academics and athletics.

“Tennis has been a stress relief,” he said. “I was good to get it out of my system and not spend all day at a desk.’’

The sport gave him a perspective he couldn’t have gotten in class.

“I got to meet a lot of people from other schools and connect with people from my own school that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise,’’ Gwin said. “You need balance in your life. That’s been my mantra ... when I had an 89 in a class and struggling a little, tennis gave me the balance that got me through.’’

The lesson he learned from getting that lone B was “that I can’t always rely on myself. It’s good to ask for help. That’s going to be huge in college when I know I won’t know what’s going on all the time.’’

Gwin said he will always remember the tennis trips with fondness.

“You got on the van (at 5 a.m.) dead tired,’’ he said. “You had fun on the court and then you were dead tired going home. I’m so happy I had that experience.’’

Getting up early for tennis trips helped him with academic discipline when he had to get up early to finish an assignment.

He was thrown into the tennis elite last season when Enid’s No. 1 player Daniel Martinez sat out the season because of hip flexor surgery. Gwin was 8-16 taking Martinez’s place. He was fifth at regionals and failed to qualify for the state tournament

“I don’t regret that at all,’’ Gwin said. “I never got discouraged. I was definitely in a different environment and I always kept that in mind.’’

That, he said, enhanced his development.

He jokes at No. 2 doubles he won’t be seeing the 100-mile per hour serves he saw at No. 1 singles.

“I don’t have a fear of anyone’s serve now,’’ he said, “because I’ve seen so much worst. It toughen me mentally and made my game a lot better.’’

In singles, it was “who can hit it the hardest and the deepest,’’ he said. In doubles, it’s about consistency and angles.’’

Gwin and Hallett were group together rather late in the season, but have developed good chemistry. They have a 8-9 record and were third in the regionals, but threw a scare into the No. 2 seeds before falling 0-6, 6-1, 6-1.

“We definitely think we can make it to the second day,’’ Gwin said. “Tyler and I have known each other for a long time. We communicate well verbally and through body language.’’

The duo has used their math skills to develop some strategies during breaks, but “in the middle of a point, you don’t have the time to think to get the ball in the right spot,’’ Gwin said.

Gwin made the state tournament with Jason Christopherson at No. 1 doubles as a sophomore, but they were eliminated in two matches.

Gwin’s sister, Abby, a freshman, made it to the second day in No. 2 singles at state last week. That puts pressure on big brother.

“I can’t be shown up by my little sister,’’ he said.

It’s the last competitive tournament for Gwin, who has played on the Missouri Valley Tennis Association circuit.

“Honestly, it hasn’t hit me yet,’’ Gwin said. “I probably won’t realize it until the day of state. It’s been awesome. There are days where it’s been long and tiring, but it’s definitely been worth it.’’

He said he can’t imagine life without tennis and may play intramurals at Rice, but there academics will be first.

Architecture is a six-year program there. One year will be spent in Paris. The sixth year will be spent in internships.

“I might not be the best architectural student there, but I know I will still come out as a Rice-educated architect, which will make me very happy,’’ he said. “That will make me very happy.’’

It also makes him very happy Enid qualified in the other divisions — Martinez (30-8), No. 1 singles; Blake Young (10-8), No. 2 singles and Ryan Leap and Connor Angleton (16-23), No. 1 doubles.

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