COLUMBIA — Hickman boys tennis player Daniel Shyu knew he was going to have to play No. 1 singles against Marshall on Tuesday. But he didn't know how well he was going to play.
Shyu, a junior and normally the No. 3 singles player, said he wasn't nervous filling in for No. 1 Junyi Wu.
“I knew I had to step up my game and take the opportunity that I got,” Shyu said. “We’re trained to be able to take any challenge, and so we always have to be ready to play at a higher gear. I knew what I was getting into, and I think that helped definitely, mentally.”
Shyu did more than take advantage of his opportunity. He produced the Kewpies' best singles result, winning 10-1. His accuracy and strong serving had his opponent punching the green concrete court and throwing his racquet in frustration.
“He dominated today,” Hickman coach Andrew Materer said. “As our No. 3 player, he’s someone who’s very comfortable playing No. 1. He looked like a No. 1 player today and as a junior, I think he might play more No. 1 for us in the future.”
Shyu helped the team even more after his singles victory. He partnered up with sophomore Sam Pottipadu, who was filling in for Daniel Hwang who is usually the No. 2, to win the No. 1 doubles match. They didn’t lose a game, winning 10-0.
“He’s encouraging,” Pottipadu said. “Especially when I’m playing, and I’m not doing that well. He has some really good advice since he’s played years before me.”
Shyu plays a noticeably calm and strategic game. Always focused, he rarely shows emotion until after a match is over. Occasionally, he will quietly pump his fist after a point, but Shyu is known as one of the more mentally tough players on the team.
"He’s a very intelligent player," Materer said. "When he stays aggressive, he’s playing better. He’s an all-court player."
The rest of the Kewpies played well, too, nearly pulling off their first sweep of the year. The Kewpies won 8-1.
“We’re improving every match,” Materer said. “All the guys are getting to be better players. All our young players are really improving. I see us getting better, continuing to get better through the rest of the season.”
Hickman will join Rock Bridge this weekend at the Mid-Missouri Tennis Tournament. Eight teams will participate in the three-round event that starts at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Cosmo-Bethel and Cosmopolitan parks. The second round will also be Friday at 2:30 p.m., and the last round starts at 9 a.m. Saturday.