FORT WAYNE – It took a couple of years for Ross Marano to ascend to the No. 1 spot on the Carroll boys tennis team, but thats because he was still a novice to the sport.
But after getting it figured out, it has been a good ride for the senior as the No. 23 Chargers head to sectional play, which begins today.
Marano has played at No. 1 singles for the past two years, going 19-7 last year and 18-3 thus far this season. But the former cross country runner and soccer player had to build his way up through the Carroll program, not just working to earn a spot at No. 1 singles but on the varsity squad as well.
As a freshman, Marano was on the junior varsity team playing in the No. 4 and No. 5 positions and had an 18-2 record. As a sophomore, he was 19-0 as the No. 1 player on the JV team and due to a lineup change near the end of the season, he finished 6-1 at No. 3 singles on varsity.
I worked on consistency and strategy play, Marano said. Theres a lot of aspects to the game. I tried to improve on every small detail. I worked on that during the offseason, and it paid off. It took a lot of offseason practice. I worked hard at it with a lot of conditioning.
Marano started his freshman year as the 11th overall player in the program and worked his way up to the No. 7 player as a sophomore.
I got to understand how the high school program worked, Marano said. It was a really good experience because I had never done anything before in tennis programs, besides Pine Ridge (Country Club) with lessons.
The right-handed player decided to play tennis just before high school.
About seventh- and eighth-grade year, I really started to like tennis, he said. I was really good at cross country in middle school, and I had a tough decision between tennis, cross country and soccer because I also played soccer for seven years before that. It came down to tennis because I love it is a one-person sport, and I liked it better than anything else. It was a lot easier to focus on just one sport because in the past I had played multiple sports at one time.
Carroll coach Kyle Stoffel said Marano has gotten better by playing 15 to 20 offseason tournaments the last two years.
He played every chance he got, Stoffel said. Hes become one of the best players in northeast Indiana. The formula for improvement is very simple. He works extremely hard at his game and plays year-round, including tournaments, lessons and group play.