Adams Centrals Nathan Barger has tennis in common with his older siblings, but his game is certainly not the same. Unlike his sister Rachel and brother Brandon, both former Jets standouts, the juniors game is all about power while his siblings were more about precision.
It might have just been frustration from playing them all the time, Barger said. They kind of keep it in play, and I am ready to finish the point.
During Bargers freshman season, 16-year Adams Central coach Michael Hower tried to convert him to a steady type of player like his siblings, but the experiment ended quickly.
Its just not him, Hower said. He is not like his siblings. They are steady and grinding-type players; the ones who keep it in play. If they could keep it in on 20 shots, they would like it. Nathan is the opposite. He wants to come out and serve hard, and he is very risky. But thats him, and it works really well.
We call him the highlight reel. He likes to go down the line, he likes to hit the shots nobody else will, and he likes to hit the ball between his legs. Not because he is cocky, but because he is just a risky guy. He wants to end it quickly and show you what hes got.
The whole family shares the love of the game.
Ever since I was young, our family headed off to the tennis courts for fun, Barger said. It was always a hobby of ours, and eventually we started taking it more seriously. It was just trying to have fun and maybe a sport to do. I played a little soccer and tennis was an alternative, which turned really well for me and my family.
Its in the bloodlines for the Bargers, Hower said.
He came to our program with very high expectations, and he has done a really nice job, the coach said.
So well in fact that Barger already has the school record for career wins, surpassing Brandons mark of 34 victories last year as a sophomore when he reached the individual regional finals.
It felt like a great accomplishment because my brother was a great player, and I always looked up to him, Barger said of the record.
Barger, who was 18-2 last year, fell to Bishop Dwenger sophomore Bertram Najev in the regional finals, 7-5, 6-2.
We dont expect him to do worse, thats for sure, Hower said of goals for this season. He played extremely well in the regional final last year, but just came up short. Nathan was making very few errors, but (Najev) was making even fewer. It was great to get that experience.
Barger is 6-2 this year, including a loss to rival Reid Imel of Norwell.
If I can get past Reid Imel (in the sectional), who is playing really solid, then I am hoping for a run to the state finals, he said. That would be a nice improvement. I just have to give it my 100 percent, no matter what and keep fighting through because if you are not the other people will take advantage.