Two years ago Tim LaVelle was having an impressive preseason for Marian Catholic, slotted to play No. 1 singles on the sophomore squad and maybe even get a shot at playing with the big boys.
“Coach talked to me at practice on that Friday about possibly playing some varsity matches, and then on Monday I broke my ankle,” he said.
Fast forward two years and LaVelle is preparing for his senior season, slotted to play first doubles and leading a young but gifted Spartans squad this spring.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, but we’ve got a great crop of juniors coming up,” LaVelle said. “They’re talented, they’re maturing and they’ve been playing a lot of tennis this year and over the summer.”
It’s a tribute to LaVelle’s hard work and perseverance to return from a long and arduous rehabilitation from the injury. The broken ankle didn’t heal properly, and LaVelle had to have surgery in the fall of his junior season.
“I wasn’t ready to even start running until mid-February of my junior year, and tennis starts in March,” he said. “I was real rusty and was able to shake a lot of the rust off and get better.”
LaVelle returned to form and played some second singles and first and second doubles for a team that finished 21-2, won the sectional and finished eighth in the state.
“He was better than expected coming off the ankle injury,” coach Scott Bodnar said.
LaVelle also leads in the classroom and scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. He’s applied to eight top schools and lists Harvard and Notre Dame at the top of his college wish list. He plans to major in bio-molecular engineering or chemistry.
“He’s in band, and he’s just a very well-rounded kid,” Bodnar said.
Now this season LaVelle is taken on more of a leadership role and has settled into the first doubles with Sam Roche.
“He works hard and leads by what he does and what he shows,” Bodnar said.
LaVelle also has learned to be a vocal leader as well.
“I see myself now as a kind of a one who has to be the disciplinarian -- ‘this is how it’s going to be,’” he said.
LaVelle is also excited about developing a good chemistry with his doubles partner Roche.
“He’s a consistent player and is real patient,” said LaVelle of Roche. “I like to run to the net and play aggressive, so it’s a good contrast of games.”
LaVelle said Roche is able to navigate the court real well, fill in the gaps and get to a lot of balls.
“I’m able to slam back the return, so I think that works well,” LaVelle said. “Kind the yin and yang, if you will.”