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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette
    After losing at regional last season, East Noble’s Austin Mohamedali is motivated to return to the state tennis meet in his senior season. “Coming into this year, that motivates me a lot. I want to get to the point where I can get further, which I know I can,” he says.
September 23, 2016 1:01 AM

Precise road to state

Knights senior uses cyber-thinking on court

Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette

East Noble senior Austin Mohamedali is a self-described “cyber-geek.”

The Knights’ No. 1 singles player wants to go into cyber defense and likens the logical thinking that career entails to what it’s like on the tennis court.

“You have to be smart with the kinds of shots you hit,” Mohamedali said. “You can’t hit random shots, you have to know where to put them and what’s the best for your game and what you can do to make your opponents miscue.

“(A friend, Kyle Johnson) talked about (cyber defense) one day and I got kind of interested. I talked to him about it, researched it a lot, and it sounds like something I’d want to do.”

Add that to the list of other things he’d want to do, including win sectionals, regionals and advance to state.

The Knights had won seven straight sectional titles until last year, and the program won its only regional title two years ago, Mohamedali’s sophomore year.

“We set a goal at the beginning of the year,” coach Damian Disque said. “This team has won one regional championship in school history and Austin was part of it. We talk about having a two-month mission that once again, our goal is to come back and win the sectional.”

After the Knights lost to Delta 4-1 at the 2014 semistate, Mohamedali advanced to the individual state quarterfinals. He ultimately fell to Ian Landwehr of Yorktown in the first match.

He fell in the regional round last year to Bryce Bonin of Crown Point, but the motivation to return to the state level is amplified this season.

“Coming into this year, that motivates me a lot. I want to get to the point where I can get further, which I know I can,” he said. “It’s a whole different game. Those guys, they hit a lot of balls in, they make everything back. It’s hard but it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s something I can’t really explain. Knowing that I’m down there, it gives me a lot of confidence knowing that all of my hard work has paid off. I just go out there and have fun with it.”

Mohamedali spends the offseason with Wildwood Racquet Club in Fort Wayne and has found that the year-round practices have improved his game in every way.

“This year, I think my net game has really improved. My volleys, my overheads, my forehand and backhand, just all-around everything’s gotten better,” he said. “I don’t get to play against a lot of (the kids I hit with at Wildwood) but the ones I do get to play against, they’re really good kids and a lot of fun to play against.”

Having a player to lead by example on the team is something Disque is grateful for as first-year head coach of the Knights.

“It’s been nice to have Austin on my side instead of having him against me (when I was at DeKalb),” Disque said, “especially having him last year in two 31/2-hour matches and having him come away with two victories.

“It gives some of these kids an idea of how good you can really get if you’re willing to put in the time and effort into the game of tennis. It also allows us to challenge the kids that play singles, the varsity doubles, as well. He’s just a really positive role model for the kids on the team.”