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The Drill: Ian Barber loves tennis, and it shows

Ian Barber, a sophomore on the Worthington High School boys tennis team, works hard to improve himself in the sport he loves

 Worthington Trojans boys tennis player Ian Barber loves tennis, and also being a member of the WHS team.
Worthington Trojans boys tennis player Ian Barber loves tennis, and also being a member of the WHS team.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- There’s something almost magical about striking a fuzzy little ball with a stick attached to a sweet spot of interwoven strings.

Those who appreciate the feel of it call themselves tennis enthusiasts, and Ian Barber became one of them while he was in grade school. It was around the sixth grade, he recalled, when he participated in the Worthington Area YMCA program and “liked it from then on.” When he discovered that he could be a part of the high school tennis team as a seventh grader, he jumped at the chance.

He didn’t know at the time that tennis would become his favorite sport. But that’s what happened.

Barber, a sophomore who also competes in cross country, is the No. 2 singles player on the 2022 Worthington High School boys tennis team. He has made consistent improvements over the years, due in no small part to his desire to become the best he can be.

He hasn’t won every match this spring, but he’s won a bunch of them. And after every match that he loses, he’s determined to learn from his mistakes and correct them.

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To be part of a team, Barber says, is special.

“Some people think it’s just for yourself, and you’re just playing for yourself -- especially when you play singles. But really, you play for a team. And you build each other up, and it’s just a great culture,” he explains. “And I love playing it for that. But also just the feel of being on the court and hitting the balls, and just everything about the sport I love.”

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Tennis ball and net stock art. (Hermes Rivera / Unsplash)

You’d expect a real tennis enthusiast like Ian Barber to discover ways to hit those fuzzy balls outside of the high school season, too, and he does. He plays with a group of older players in the summertime, and he insists that the experiences enhance his game. He also does lessons once a week in the winter.

He doesn’t want to begin the spring high school season cold, and by dipping into tennis in the off-season lets him jump into team tennis fresh and ready.

The Globe discussed tennis with Ian recently as this week’s Globe Drill subject. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com . Here’s a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: What are your strengths as a tennis player?

ANSWER: “The best part of my tennis game, I would say, are my forehands and my drop shots. I really like my drop shots and my backspin. But my forehand has gotten a lot better and I have a lot more power that I have picked up. I really started picking up my drop shots and fine-tuning them when I played a guy this year that every ball was coming back over the net, and I was just hitting them back over, and I wasn’t doing something different. And (coach Mike) Marquardt was like, ‘Try hitting it short and dropping it.’ … And I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this shot is actually working.’”

QUESTION: What is the most valuable sports advice you’ve received?

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ANSWER: “The most valuable advice I’ve learned as an athlete is probably, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. If you practice wrong, you’re going to play wrong. If you practice good and you get in good reps, and you play to the best of your ability, and you don’t slack off, you’ll be definitely a good player.”

QUESTION: What are some of your other interests?

ANSWER: “I’m very artistic and I love graphic design (Ian designed the sweat shirts for the tennis team this year). It’s one of the career paths I’m looking into -- looking into graphic design and engineering. And I love the design factor and the art factor, and that you can add your own little touch to anything and you can redesign stuff.”

Related Topics: THE DRILLTENNIS
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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