This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.05/25/2022 12:00 AM
After putting in an intense amount of effort during the past four years, senior Jack Whittaker is finishing his career with the Valley Regional boys’ tennis team as dominant as ever this season. Jack has devoted a ton of time toward the sport that he loves and is seeing his hard work pay off with a record of 12-0 on the singles court for an undefeated Warriors’ team.
Jack started playing tennis just prior to elementary school. He was introduced to tennis by his parents and felt an instant connection to the sport. As the years have gone on, Jack’s passion for the court has only grown stronger.
“Both of my parents played when they were in college, and they kind of introduced me to it,” says Jack. “I really enjoyed that, and I guess I got an affinity for tennis and other racquet sports, and that just continued throughout middle school and high school.”
Jack wasn’t as complete a player as he is today when he joined the Valley boys’ tennis program. However, Jack has worked hard throughout his four years with the Warriors, developing a mentality based around winning and reaching his goals. Jack is executing his game-plan perfectly in his senior season and takes pride in the unique attributes that he brings to the court.
“I’m not the strongest player on the team, but I do grind down opponents a lot, and I guess that’s how I win most of my matches,” Jack says. “I don’t get too focused on each individual point. I focus on the game overall.”
Jack’s levelheaded approach is helping the Valley boys’ tennis team make history this year. The Warriors finished their regular season with a record of 13-0 with Jack also going undefeated at the No. 4 singles position. Along the way, Jack helped Valley win the Shoreline Conference title for the regular season.
Callie Riggio stepped into her role as Valley’s head coach when Jack was a freshman four years ago. Coach Riggio has been highly impressed with how Jack is performing on the court in his farewell campaign with the Warriors.
“Jack has always been a reliable player in terms of persevering, hustling, and never giving up,” says Riggio. “A lot of the players on the team look up to him as he always demonstrates a strong mindset and patience.”
Jack began his tennis career at Valley by playing doubles alongside teammates who were seniors when he was a freshman. The knowledge, advice, and encouragement that Jack received from those who stood on the courts before him guided Jack into a smooth transition to singles play as a sophomore.
Now, Jack is having a remarkable senior year as the Warriors’ No. 4 singles player, and Coach Riggio knows that he’s going to bring his best every time that he steps between the baselines.
“He’s one of the best players with great sportsmanship, positive attitude, and strategic planning,” Riggio says. “It’s apparent during matches that he incorporates my advice and pushes through every single point.”
Jack has gratitude for how Coach Riggio and his teammates have fostered his growth as a tennis player. They have been extremely supportive throughout his journey, helping Jack become one of the top players for a team that’s dominating its conference this season. Riggio’s guidance is proving a huge help for Jack as he realizes his potential.
“Each and every match, she’s in all of our corners, helping us with which way to hit, what to do with each individual opponent,” says Jack. “It’s good to get a step back and get a sense of what we’re doing. She’s helped each and every one of us be the best tennis players that we can be.”
Jack also strives to be the best person that he can be while competing for the Warriors. Jake applies his work ethic in tennis to the classroom, where he’s been pushing through multiple AP exams in the midst of the season. Jack sets high expectations for himself both athletically and academically and feels a great sense of satisfaction when he succeeds in either arena.
“When I go into the classroom to take a test or I’m on the tennis courts trying to win, it’s being the best player, best student I can be each and every day,” Jack says. “It’s just kind of culminated into this final sendoff I guess, which is a good thing.”
Jack is looking to help Valley go on a deep run when the team opens postseason play this week. After he graduates, Jack is going to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he will study biology and biotechnology with hopes to continue playing tennis at the club level. Jack feels excited about his future endeavors, but knows that it will be difficult for anything to compare to what he’s experienced on the court with the Warriors.
“Being there for three, what would have been four years, you make friends with a lot of people on the team,” says Jack. “You help each other out through the good matches and the matches that take a while—the hard ones that they have to come through in order for the team to win.”