BOYS TENNIS

Three-sport throwback Garrett Litke leads Panther tennis team to new heights

2011-09-06T19:45:00Z 2011-09-07T03:35:04Z Three-sport throwback Garrett Litke leads Panther tennis team to new heightsBy Bob Moulesong Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 06, 2011 7:45 pm  • 

As a freshman, Garrett Litke stepped out on the tennis court and told Griffith coach Tracy Sines he wanted to play.

"My older brother (Travis) was a senior on the tennis team, and I wanted to be able to play a match with him before he graduated," Litke said. "Coach Sines took me on the team and paired me up with Travis at No. 2 doubles against Gavit. It was pretty cool."

If the story sounds old school, that's because Litke could be a poster child for old-school mentality.

In this day and age of specialization, Litke is a three-sport throwback. In addition to tennis, he plays basketball and baseball for the Panthers. He has earned nine varsity letters to date, with one more shot at both basketball and baseball.

"I wasn't sure he was going to stick with tennis after his brother graduated," Sines said, "but he kept coming back and working hard."

Playing three sports leaves no time for private lessons or tutoring, but Litke learns on the court. He not only stuck in tennis, he got good -- very good.

Playing No. 1 singles last season for the Griffith, Litke went 9-8 and was named first-team all-conference. His improved play and tenacious attitude got him recognized in the same company as local stalwarts Luke Sanderson, Jack Heiniger and Aaidtya Shah.

"Being named all-conference in tennis was pretty cool," Litke said. "I had never played until I got to the high school, so I had a lot to learn. I worked really hard because I don't want to do anything halfway."

As a senior this year, both Litke (5-0) and the Panthers (3-2) have set their sights high. With five returning starters, the team is shooting for a second-place finish in the tough Northwest Crossroads Conference.

Litke's leadership skills and drive have rubbed off on teammates, according to Sines.

"As his confidence has grown, Garrett has really become a leader out on the court," Sines said. "He gets jacked up against tough competition. The other boys see that and respond by amping up. It really helps us when we play tough teams in our conference."

Griffith moved to the Merrillville Sectional this year. Litke is excited about his team's chance to win a sectional title against the Pirates, Hobart, Calumet, and Andrean.

"I think we match up pretty well against those teams," he said. "We see two of them (Hobart and Andrean) in conference play and we always have a rivalry match with Calumet. Seeing them before sectional will help us know what we need to do to take the next step.

"Now, we just have to go out and rock 'em."

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