BOYS TENNIS

Valparaiso's Williams enjoying his lone season at No. 1 singles

2013-09-24T18:00:00Z 2013-09-25T01:32:11Z Valparaiso's Williams enjoying his lone season at No. 1 singlesJim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com
September 24, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Tennis wasn't Peter Williams' first sport, but it's his No. 1 love now.

"I was a baseball kid growing up," said the Valparaiso senior, who began taking tennis lessons as an eighth-grader. "I just developed a knack for (tennis). It's come naturally to me."

Williams began playing United States Tennis Association events as a freshman, spent parts of two years at varsity doubles and moved up to No. 1 singles this season. He's split his first 18 matches this year.

"He's just got a good all-around game," Valparaiso coach Tim Shideler said. "He's stepped up. He has a big forehand and became more consistent. You can call him an aggressive baseliner, but he also likes to work the point."

He played No. 1 doubles with classmate Jared Folke during the second half of last year's run to the state quarterfinals. Graduation losses took all three singles spots, so Williams and some of his teammates honed their skills for the new challenge.

"They all saw their opportunity," Shideler said. "He was by far the best player (in tryouts).

"Two years ago, he was on JV No. 2 doubles. By the end of the year, he was at varsity No. 2 doubles. He's dedicated and has a passion for the game."

That dedication led to more concentrated work on his service game and other on-court adjustments.

"I worked on my kick serve, and then I'll use variations on my first serve," he said. "I'm definitely not a super power player, so I try to go for angles. I also worked on being more aggressive, hitting more winners plus finding an opponent's weakness and pounding it."

He's now filling a spot held in recent years by Marc Shideler, the coach's son, and Ben Kalisch, but Williams hasn't fallen victim to the pressure.

He's just enjoying the ride.

"There's obviously some great history in singles at our school, and there is some pressure to live up to," said Williams, who would like to play college tennis. "I've just been taking things as they come.

"I know I wasn't handed this, and I always thought it would be great to have a chance to contribute at No. 1. The players and the coaches have been so great. It's just really amazing. I still can't totally believe I'm here."

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