Bailey Harris became the latest in the long line of championship tennis players at Abington Heights when the senior claimed the District 2 Class 3A title at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre last Friday.
Losing just seven games in eight sets over the two days of the tournament was a large display of Harris’ talent on the tennis court.
What made the title all the more impressive for the senior was that a year ago at this time, Harris had other athletic goals on his mind. Instead of tennis, his mindset had been on a different track ... literally, as Harris was preparing for the Spagna Championships and the district meet at this time a year ago, as a member of the Comets boys’ track and field team.
Instead of backhands and aces, Harris had opted to compete for district medals in the long and triple jumps, the pole vault and the javelin.
“I had run track in junior high, my seventh and eighth grades here, and I wasn’t too bad at it,” Harris said. “I wanted to see what I could do at a high school level.
“It was a really hard decision to leave tennis for that one year. I don’t regret the decision at all, but there were times, seeing my tennis teammates having so much fun. The track team, there were like 100 kids, and the tennis team was 17 or so, and it was much more close like a family. There were some regrets, but overall, I’m glad I tried my hand at track.”
Getting back to the tennis team, Harris took a look back at his time in track and tried to see if there was something he could incorporate into his tennis efforts.
“Track has a different work ethic, it’s like, do it until you die,” Harris said. “It’s definitely different, and it was a good perspective to have going into my senior year.”
Getting back on the tennis court felt like home to Harris, and that may have made Harris a better player for his senior season on the court. Building upon each victory in the regular season, the senior got into the district championships as prepared as he possibly could be.
That was evident at districts, where he played two matches and lost just one game to reach the semifinals, where he lost just two games before meeting teammate Timmy Christman in the final.
“I had to reach a new level when I played Timmy, because he was my teammate,” Harris said. “I had a lot of respect for him; it was a tough match emotionally.”
Christman battled Harris deep into the first set, winning four games off his teammate, but once Harris claimed that set, 6-4, he found the killer instinct to shut out Christman in the second set to win the gold medal.
“I played pretty consistent all season, but I still have to prove myself in the state tournament next weekend,” Harris said. “My serve and my net game have been my best assets.
“I get my serve from my coaches constantly telling me that the serve is the most important part of tennis, so I’ve put countless hours practicing it, and I get my net game from my past doubles career from two years ago. Doubles really trains your volleys and overheads to be spot on.”
Finding his way to the top of the Class 3A tennis players despite missing his entire junior season to his foray into track and field shows the width of Harris’ talents.