Andrew Rodriguez has played both singles and doubles matches during his tennis career at Trinity Lutheran High School, but there’s no doubt which type of match is his favorite.
“I like singles because if anyone makes a mistake, it’s always your fault,” Rodriguez said. “It can’t be the other person’s fault, so you can’t get mad at your partner for having a bad shot or messing it up. It’s more mentally hard in doubles.
Rodriguez, who began his tennis career in his freshman year at Trinity Lutheran, played doubles his first two years, then switched to No. 1 singles last fall and will fill that position again this season.
“It’s stronger (opponents) playing No. 1 singles, but playing singles and doubles takes a different set of skills,” Rodriguez said. “Going from doubles to singles was a transition that took a little while to get over.”
The senior’s former teammates, Henry Welker, Aaron Bloch, Connor Galyen and Chaz Mathis, urged him to play tennis at Trinity.
“They were really good role models,” Rodriguez said. “They showed me how to play the game and how it should be played. I think I got better just by watching how they played their shots, and when they got down, how they dealt with it.
“Now, I want to show senior leadership and how the game is supposed to be played. I want to let younger players know how the game is supposed to be played, set good examples and tell them to keep their emotions in check. Tanner (Prewitt) and I are trying to be good leaders.”
Rodriguez said he tries to learn a lot about his opponent during warmups, and it is important to get off to a good start.
“During warmups, I try to see how strong his backhand is, so I’ll try to hit to his backhand side, and if it is bad, I want to see how bad it is so I can exploit that during the match,” he said. “I want to see how powerful his forehand is, see if I should watch out and try to hit it toward their backhand.
“Sometimes, I don’t always hit my normal first serve to give away how hard I can hit my first serve. The first couple of serves, they’re up on their feet and don’t know what to expect. I just try to hit my serves as hard as I can.”
In matches, Rodriguez tries to adjust his game to best attack his opponent’s weaknesses.
“It really depends on the opponent,” Rodriguez said. “If your opponent is good at just hitting it back, sometimes, you have to charge the net and try to slam one down their throat. I just play a mixture of both, and I know my time in doubles helped me a little bit when charging the net.”
Playing singles, Rodriguez understands the importance of keeping a strong mental game.
He tries to keep a positive outlook every time he’s on the courts.
“I think mental is a pretty big part of any sport,” Rodriguez said. “If you start playing bad in tennis, you’ll just get really down, your shoulders will really start dropping and your opponent will know you are really down. It’s a game of hiding your emotions.
“You want to keep a good attitude because you never know when the other guy is going to start playing bad. Hitting shots into the net can really turn a player’s outlook on a game. Tennis is definitely a game of inches. If you hit it out, it can break or make your game.”
Q: What has it been like going to Trinity Lutheran?
A: “The teachers are very helpful. If you are having problems, you can go to them and ask them personally for help. I can live a Christ-like attitude here in helping me affirm my faith in Christ so when I go to college, if someone has a question about my faith, I will be able to answer firmly and hopefully tell about Christ.”
Q: What’s the highlight of your career so far?
A: “One of my favorite moments was playing Brownstown’s No. 1 singles (Cole Borden) last year, who broke all their records. I played really well against him. I lost the first set 6-2 and I came back played better in the second set, and I thought I played really well against someone of his caliber.”
Q: What matches do you look forward to during the season?
A: “I think the home matches are really awesome. Sometimes, other people come to watch, and I think that is really cool. I really like the courts at Hanover College where the conference is.”
Parents: The Rev. Jimmy and Pam Rodriguez
Siblings: Allison, Adam
Sports: Tennis, four years; golf, three years
Athletic highlights: 2014 most valuable player in tennis
Organizations: National Honor Society, Student Ambassadors, choir
Plans after high school: Attend college
Favorite food: Crawfish
Favorite TV show: “The Blacklist”
Favorite musician: “Fall Out Boy”
Favorite movie: “The Avengers”
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts