BOYS TENNIS

Wheeler freshman Hibbard makes a quick impact on the courts

2011-09-27T16:45:00Z 2012-11-15T19:53:19Z Wheeler freshman Hibbard makes a quick impact on the courtsBy Jim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com
September 27, 2011 4:45 pm  • 

As a sixth grader, Jack Hibbard was in awe of members of Wheeler's varsity boys tennis team.

"I saw them and thought, 'I have to be that good to play high school tennis,'" said Hibbard, who hit balls with varsity players back then. "It helped me understand what I had to do to play."

A few years later, Hibbard's No. 3 singles opponents are the ones dropping their jaws.

Entering today's Portage Sectional, Hibbard is 18-0 and hasn't dropped a set this season for the Times No. 5 Bearcats (14-4). His closest call was 7-5 as part of a straight-sets win against Crown Point.

"First and foremost, this kid has got a No. 1 player's game," Wheeler coach Mike Rosta said. "Those guys at No. 3 cannot handle his power.

"I'm not really sure if he has a weakness. His serve is strong, so are his volleys, and his backhand is as strong as his forehand."

It hasn't always been that way for Hibbard, who started to play tennis at age 2.

"My dad (Jeff) told me stories about how I would go out on the courts, and the racket was almost too heavy for me to carry," Jack said. "He said that I did the best I could."

Hibbard hasn't spent a lot of time in amateur events, but he's invested many hours with the Bearcats. Hibbard's mother, Junia, knew Rosta growing up, and those ties led to Jack's sixth-grade association with the varsity.

"He's hit with the boys since then, and I kind of knew what I was getting," Rosta said. "I just didn't know what he would do in the big matches. We've kept preaching confidence to him, and he's pretty comfortable out there now."

Hibbard has become a major part of the Bearcats' formidable singles lineup.

Senior Alex Dials and junior Drew Heinold both played a year of varsity No. 1 before this season began. Dials was at No. 1 as a sophomore, but he was an exchange student in Germany last year. Heinold took over at No. 1 in 2010, but now he follows Dials in the lineup.

"He could be the No. 1 on a lot of teams," Rosta said of Hibbard. "We're just so deep, and I don't see a reason to move him up."

Hibbard doesn't mind where's at, and he's making the most of his situation.

"They got so much more experience than me," Heinold said of Dials and Heinold. "They've both also helped me with my match strategies. They helped me raise my level of play."

The Bearcats face favorite Valparaiso in today's semifinals. While Hibbard enters the match with confidence, he's doesn't come in with a big head.

"I might be undefeated so far, but this is a new season," he said. "I'm 0-0 now. This isn't about looking back at my record."

 

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Which local girls volleyball regional qualifier will most likely reach state?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News

Featured Businesses