For The Tribune
Having two older sisters, and an older brother play tennis at Brownstown Central it was only natural for Kent Criminger to follow in their footsteps.
“My family has always played, and I picked it up in around fifth grade, before middle school,” he said. “I played all three years in middle school and all four years in high school.”
The senior played No. 2 doubles his freshman year, moved up to No. 1 doubles the following year and last year he split time between No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles.
This fall he is playing No. 3 singles.
“I preferred doubles in the past, but I’m really enjoying singles this year,” Criminger said. “I feel like I’ve really clicked in with the whole singles-playing stuff, so I’m leaning toward singles these days. I like that it’s all on me to get the win for whatever it takes.”
Criminger said he feels like he has good lateral movement to be able to run down balls that opponents hit to the corners, and he has confidence in his serving.
“My forehand is good,” he said. “I’m really confident in my forehand and backhand, and my serves are doing a lot better this year, too. Just all-around it’s been good. I’d say it’s pretty equal with my forehand and backhand. They’re both pretty strong this year.
“In tennis, serving is half the game, so it’s important to have a good first serve, because the first serve can get you the points you need quickly. The second serve is important also because if you do mess up on the first serve you’ve got to keep it in play so you can finish out the point.”
Criminger said he has focused on different types of serves to challenge his opponents.
“My serve has some top spin, but’s a low, hard slice type serve,” Criminger said. “I kind of smoke the corners of the boxes, either down the lines or the corners. It’s always good to switch it up on them, or try to judge where they’re waiting for it, to either go down the line or hit it out to the corner to make them go outside the court for a return.”
Criminger said he tries to attack his opponents’ weakness.
“This year I’ve kind of adjusted to my opponent, so I look for my opponents’ weaknesses,” he said. “If they’re not getting good lobs on me at the net I usually rush the net a lot more so I can put it away on them, or if I’m playing a really strong hitter, where they can hit it down the alleys, sometimes you’ve just got to grind it out with them and play that way and hit your forehand and backhand to the corners and whatever it takes.
“It’s basically moving the person around and get a game plan of where you can find their weaknesses and find the best place to put the ball to finish out the point. In warm-ups you’re just kind of sizing up your opponent.”
For Criminger, taking the first set is crucial, he said.
“Winning the first set is so important,” Criminger said. “If you can take the first set mentally you have the advantage on the person because you only have to get the next set. If you lose the first set you’ve got to move on from it and do what it takes. Deuce games can get crazy sometimes.”
Criminger said he wants to finish the season strong, and he is looking forward to the sectional.
“I’m hoping to take it one match at a time and keep playing my best, and keep getting wins for the team, and the team keeps working together and doing a great job. You need to keep everything off the court and focus on the match.”
Q: What’s your tennis schedule like?
A: “I like the (Mid-Southern) Conference matches. The Brown County and Scottsburg tournaments are a whole different atmosphere. I kind of like the tournaments because they are a lot of energy, a lot of competition and they are fun. We play a couple of schools with really good people and you’ve got to play your best.”
Q: Do you have an advantage on your home courts?
A: “I love playing at home. It seems like this year we kind of lucked out with some of the further-away schools coming to us this year. It’s nice to have home-court advantage and our crowd and parents that always show up. I always enjoy playing here at Brownstown.”
Q: Have you enjoyed your time at Brownstown Central?
A: “It’s been a really good four years here. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and the rest of the year. Tennis is definitely going to be one of my highlights from my four years here. It was really cool my freshman year, when I was on two doubles, getting the school record for most wins in a season.”
Parents: Chris and Sandy Criminger
Siblings: Tiffany, Tabitha, Craig
Sports: tennis 4 years
Organizations: National Honor Society, Lettermen’s Club, Christian Club, Student Council
Career highlights: Tennis -setting school for wins (20-1) freshman year, received mental attitude award and helped team receive academic all-state honors junior year
Plans after high school: attend college, play tennis
Favorite good: pizza
Favorite TV show: “Breaking Bad”
Favorite musician: Andy Mineo
Favorite movie: “The Dark Knight”
Favorite athlete: Roger Federer