Playing tennis isn t just something to do for Perrysburg freshman Julia Metzger.
She doesn t pick up a racket almost daily to swat hundreds of tennis balls on a court at Shadow Valley Tennis and Fitness Club just to kill some free time. No, it means much more than that for the focused 14-year-old who moves around the court as if she was born to play the game.
She aspires to become a professional, said Shadow Valley tennis pro Justin Swiger, who has spent a year working with Metzger. She loves to play tennis at anytime. She will pick up a racket and play against anyone.
Metzger has been hooked on the sport since she was 4.
I ve always loved playing tennis, she said. It s so much fun and I really get so much out of it.
Her commitment is clear. Much of her day centers around tennis. Her class schedule is designed to allow her to spend extra time practicing and training. She attends two classes at school, which is the minimum required by the Ohio High School Athletic Association to be eligible, and takes several other classes online.
A typical school day for Metzger involves arriving at Shadow Valley around 7 a.m., workng out for three hours, then heading for school.
She joins her teammates for practices and matches after school.
It s working out well for me and I have been disciplined enough to keep up with my classes, Metzger said of her nontraditional school schedule.
Metzger s skills are beyond her years, according to Perrysburg coach Dan Thompson.
She s the top-ranked 14-year-old in northwest Ohio and is ranked nationally in the top 100 for her age group after winning the United States Tennis Association s Western Open national qualifier, where more than 120 players competed.
This is my 10th year as Perrysburg s coach and she s the best player we ve had and I ve only had her for a couple of months, Thompson said. When she came here this year we beefed up our schedule to give her some better matches.
The Yellow Jackets scheduled traditional state powersLexington and Hilliard Davidson.
Metzger owns a 12-3 record in No. 1 singles with her only setbacks coming against three more experienced players who are past state tournament qualifiers, including defending state champion Neela Vaez of Notre Dame.
She lost in two sets to Vaez, but gained plenty from the experience.
I was nervous going in because I wanted to do well, Metzger said. I now know what I have to work on, my passing shots and closing out points.
It definitely was a big confidence booster to know that I m right there and can play at that level.
Thompson also noted the match will go a long way toward helping Metzger.
Neela was the best player she s played against and she didn t tire out against her, he said. I think it was more mental [fatigue] and I told her, That could be you in two years. You could be a state champion in two years. You want to be the one that s the hunted.
She s only 14. She s playing against juniors and seniors with a lot more experience. Physically, they re more developed and stronger. Skill-wise, she has all the shots.
Swiger believes that in time, Metzger will close the gap against opponents she has lost to this fall.
By her senior year I hope she looks to be at a place where Neela is and bringing back a state championship to northwest Ohio, Swiger said. As far as potential, the sky is the limit for her.
Metzger s arrival at Perrysburg has helped raise the level of play for a team that was already considered talented.
Sectional play begins Oct. 6.
Lindsay Shaeffer, a junior, and Mallory Messenger, a sophomore, were state qualifiers in doubles last year after spending most of the season playing at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots, respectively.
Julia s sister, Jackie, a sophomore, is also a key member.
Contact Donald Emmons at:email@example.com or 419-724-6302.