After competing as a reserve for the Dublin Jerome boys tennis team as a freshman, senior Kevin Liu raised his level of play and emerged as a top contributor for the Celtics over the last two seasons.
Liu hopes to close his prep career with a return trip to the Division I state tournament May 27 and 28 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Last season, Liu teamed with Eli Wiblin in doubles to reach state, where they lost their only match. Wiblin, a senior, has played second and third singles this season.
“It’s probably because I switched clubs and I’ve put a lot more effort and time in,” Liu said of his progress in the sport. “The coaches have done a lot with developing my shots and also my game strategy-wise. Coach (Ken) Berlin helps us keep a calmer head and keeps us focused in a match. He’s taught us how to position ourselves in doubles. ”
Liu switched from Elysium Tennis Club in Plain City to Wickertree Tennis Club in Columbus in August 2020, after the high school season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After playing third singles last season during the regular season, Liu has seen time this year at second singles and first doubles, with senior Max Fickas at first singles. Last season, Fickas teamed with senior Tanish Pairu to go 1-1 in doubles at state.
“When you have guys like Kevin who, for as great of a tennis player as he is, he’s 10 times better as a person, those are the kids you love on your team and those are the kids that you’re always pulling for, ”Berlin said. “I only get them for four seasons. It’s good to get to know those guys on a personal basis and see what they do off the court. ”
Berlin said this year’s postseason lineup will be determined near the end of the regular season and added the upperclassmen will play a key role.
“The upperclassmen are doing a great job of pacing us and bringing the underclassmen along and elevating their game,” Berlin said.
Jerome also is looking for its first berth in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state team tournament after losing in the Division I district final in 2021 and 2019.
The Celtics are seeking their seventh consecutive league title. They were 8-1 overall before playing Scioto on April 28 and 3-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Berlin on April 29.
“We have high respect for all of our opponents, and our league is pretty solid when it comes to tennis,” Berlin said. “Everybody else is just as tough, and if you take them lightly, they’ll make you pay for it.”
Jerome defeated Olentangy 4-1 on April 21 in a match that served as a league contest and an OTCA quarterfinal. The Celtics will play Marietta, Marion Harding, Marysville or Pickerington North in an OTCA semifinal on a date to be determined.
“This is a really strong district this year,” Berlin said. “One of our goals at the start of the season is to make the state (team) tournament. We’ve come up just short the last two (seasons), falling in the district final to New Albany both years. That’s not lost on our guys and we’re really focused on that goal. ”
The state tournament will be held May 29 at a site to be determined.
Liu, who plans on playing club tennis in college, has a 3,875 GPA.
“Grades are definitely real important,” he said. “It’s time management and being really efficient. When I work on something, I really need to focus and try not to have too much distraction. You have to make time. You have to put in the effort. I think collegiate tennis would have been too much of a commitment. “