Dylan Mather has grown both his tennis game over quite a few years and his physical stature over the last couple of years.
The Owensboro High School senior is the defending 3rd Region boys tennis champion, and he has been learning to grow his game now that he is 6-foot-2. Most of Mather’s career – he played for OHS since he was in the fourth grade – he was under 6-foot tall.
“I grew so fast between my sophomore and junior years, I really don’t have much experience with my game, big serve, big forehand, and all that is timing,” Mather said Monday afternoon. “My main goal is to try and find my own game. I was really comfortable with my game when I was 5-8, but being 6-2, 6-3, it’s a lot tougher doing that. “
Mather began playing in the fourth grade, before the KHSAA bylaw dealing with younger player age limits. He has played in the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament since the fifth grade. His sophomore season was the COVID-19 year, and tennis was stopped early in the spring. Mather began working out in the offseason after that year.
“He texted me and said ‘hey coach I’ve grown a lot, I’ve been working out,’ and I was like OK,” OHS coach Cody Russelburg said. “Then he showed up to the first practice of my junior year and I was like ‘Wow.’
“He had grown four inches and had been lifting weights and working out. His skill set of him was always there, he was always a good tennis player, and his body of him caught up to him the last two years, so he’s got a lot of power behind it. “
Mather played a lot of junior tennis when he was younger, but he doesn’t do that now. He is a National Merit Finalist who is going to the University of Alabama to study computer science.
This spring will be his last competitive tennis season, and he wants to go farther in the state tournament than he did last year as an unseeded player.
Mather won two matches, beating a No. 9 seed, Peter Laskey from Highlands, 6-2, 7-6 (7) in the second round. Mather was stopped in the round of 16 by Manual’s Brent Reynolds 7-5, 6-2. Reynolds was a No. 5 seed.
“I went 23-0 in the regular season, won region, in the championship I only lost two games and I didn’t get seeded,” Mather said. “Back when I was little, I played in a bunch of tournaments, those kids are favored in the seeding, they have more results that are accurate, they play tournaments and travel. I used to do that too, but I don’t anymore.
“I was upset I didn’t get seeded, then I ended up knocking out the No. 9 seed in my draw, a high 9 seed. I thought I got one of the toughest 5 seeds. I had set point in the first set. I really do think looking back I would’ve beaten most of the 5 seeds, it was a tight match. “
Mather thinks he should earn a seeding this year at the state tournament, but if he doesn’t get one officially he won’t let it effect his preparation.
“I basically put a seed there by my name last year,” Mather said.
Motivation is certainly not a problem for Mather. He has been working in practice on what he can do to make himself improve.
“My serve, I feel like I took for granted last year, I was going good for a few months,” Mather said. “I’m in a little funk right now with the serve, but everything else is good.”