Kevin Zych has singlehandedly put Crete-Monee High School boys tennis back on the map.
The Warriors senior finished second overall in singles competition at Saturday's Lincoln-Way East Sectional, earning him a first-round state tournament match with University High School's Sam Totten today.
When the last Crete-Monee tennis player to qualify for state was back in the 1980s, Zych's accomplishments are certainly a huge deal given the lack of a feeder program to the high school.
"It means a lot to me," Zych said "In our sectional, Lincoln-Way East has always been a powerhouse. I can finally say I put Crete tennis back on the map and hopefully rebuild our program."
Zych sports a record of 17-6 in singles play this season, a strong mark given the competition he's faced with the likes of the Lincoln-Way schools and Bradley-Bourbonnais. It's no secret that competition like that, as well as his rigorous preseason training, has prepared Zych for the 2013 postseason.
"It's helped me a lot," said Zych, who first started playing tennis for fun in fourth grade. "The preseason before high school started up, I was playing in a lot of (United States Tennis Association) tournaments to get me in top shape for the season. I think playing with those good players has definitely elevated my game to get me as far as I've gotten so far."
Though all the physical aspects of Zych's game are strong, Warriors coach Kelly Place insists it's his composure that is his best trait.
"That's something we did work on this year," Place said. "It's part of growing up. Some of the younger boys are not as composed as he is. He played the best he's ever played last weekend in order to qualify. He was in the zone, there's no doubt about it."
The excitement of playing on the state's biggest stage in high school boys tennis is obvious for Zych.
"I'm excited to go out there and give it all I've got," he said. "I'm watching a lot of tennis and making sure I brush up on my game. I'm making sure I stay calm during my matches. I'm getting prepared to go into what I call 'battle' and hopefully pull out a win."