Hickman tennis team goes out in style

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | 1:55 a.m. CDT; updated 4:43 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Hickman junior Alex Turner returns a serve during doubles play Monday at the district meet at Rock Bridge High School.

COLUMBIA — Hickman junior Alex Turner is looking forward to being a leader on the Kewpies tennis team next year.

Already a part of Hickman’s No. 1 doubles team, he is eager to help inspire his teammates. But even leaders need to know when to have a little fun.

The Friday before the start of the Class 2, District 5 tournament, Turner cut his hair into a Mohawk.

“I told all my friends I was going to do a different hairdo,” Turner said. “They all wanted a Mohawk. It’s kind of fun having it on there. It makes practices fun.”

Hickman coach Andy Materer was thrilled with the style choice.

“I love the Mohawk,” Materer said. “In fact, if everyone did the Mohawk, I think maybe we would have finished a little higher. It shows his enthusiasm and his sense of fun, and those are important things.”

Although Materer and the rest of the team enjoyed the Mohawk, Turner said that his mom would like the Mohawk gone as soon as possible.

For Turner, having a little fun now and then is just one part of stepping into a leadership position on the team next season. He knows that he has to show his teammates the value of hard work as well.

“I’m looking forward to just trying to be a good leader,” Turner said. “I want to try to do my best and show the rest of the team that that’s all you can do.”

Turner showed that work ethic in his final match.

After Turner and his doubles partner, senior Sang Chung, lost to Rock Bridge’s No.1 doubles team of senior Jay Kinderknecht and junior Eemaun Latifi in the semifinals, Hickman’s overall points in the district meet was not good enough to qualify the team for regional play. However, Turner and Chung could still play for third place. Usually, a team would forfeit the match since the points earned from winning would not affect the team’s overall standing in the tournament. But Turner and Chung decided to go for it, showing that Turner was ready to step up and be a leader next season.

However, the Hickman pair lost to Helias’ No. 1 doubles team of Tony Stephenson and Micheal LeRoy 6-3, 7-6. The second set went into a tiebreaker that Hickman lost 7-3.

Chung had a bit of a different challenge to overcome during the district meet. He had to recover from taking five advanced placement exams that he started the week before the meet. His last exam finished shortly before play resumed from Saturday’s rain delay that moved the final matches to Monday.

“He’s just a perfect example of a Hickman student,” Materer said. “Five AP exams and he’s also a varsity tennis player.”

Although Chung said having the exams and districts so close together was challenging, he wouldn’t have wanted it any different.

“I think it was worth it,” Chung said. “Ending my high school career with things I liked.”

Chung and Turner finished fourth in the district tournament and the Kewpies finished fifth, ending their regualr season at 5-8.

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