Head in the game: Seymour doubles player prizes trust

Johnny Rennekamp says it takes a lot of things to be successful in tennis.

At the top of his list is consistency.

“As far as the conference goes, we play a lot of strong opponents, so it’s just being consistent with them,” Rennekamp said. “A lot of tennis is consistency and believing in yourself and not getting mentally down.

“The saying sports is 2 percent physical and 98 percent mental I think is very true as far as any sport goes. You have to trust your partner, especially in doubles with them being able to get the ball back and set you up for a good point.”

Rennekamp began playing tennis in eighth grade. He played tennis, basketball and baseball his freshman year at Seymour, then concentrated on baseball only his sophomore year.

After not playing any sport his junior year, Rennekamp decided to come back out for tennis this fall.

“I decided it was probably a good idea to come back (to tennis) my senior year,” Rennekamp said. “A lot of it is the camaraderie. You know your friends and you enjoy the game. It’s not a very hard sport as far as physicality goes, it’s just the mentality of being able to go out and play hard.”

This fall he has switched between No. 1 and No. 2 varsity doubles.

“Usually the No. 1 doubles, and No. 1 and 2 singles are all around the same skill level,” Rennekamp said. “At No. 2 doubles they usually use that spot to figure out what their strongest position is because they want to win both doubles spots, and get one of the singles.”

He said communication is important in doubles.

“There is a lot of movement, you have to move with the ball, so if the ball comes back you have to move with it and you have to tell your partner if you’re coming across the net to go for a volley to get a ball,” Rennekamp said. “There is a lot of front-and-back movement.

“With serves you’ve got to communicate on where you’re going to serve, and how you’re going to set that up for the next point. I’ve been finding out I do enjoy playing at the net a lot, but I found out playing back and Grant at the net is usually our strongest game.”

A strong start is essential with quick points in doubles.

“The first set is all about the mentality of going out and getting that first win,” Rennekamp said. “Drawing the other team down and getting that mental advantage over them because a lot of tennis is you know you can really play, but it’s just the mental side of being able to play well and having confidence to win

He said warm-ups are also important.

“A lot of that is trying to find their weaknesses, first off between their backhand and forehand; most of the time their backhand is the weakness of the two,” Rennekamp said. “You want to see how they are at the net. You know you can hit it harder at them and they’ll put it out of bounds or in the net. That’s usually an advantage for you.”

Rennekamp has enjoyed his time at Seymour High School.

“I’ve spent a lot of my time as far as classes goes taking dual credit and AP classes,” Rennekamp said. “(It has) helped me out a lot knowing that you have those classes and when you’re applying to college that gives you an edge. It gives you a lot of different options when you fill out your resume.”

At a glance

Name: Johnny Rennekamp

School: Seymour High School

Parents: John and Heather Rennekamp

Siblings: Matthew, Grace, Joshua, Jacob and Philip

Sports: Tennis, two years; baseball, two years; basketball, one year

Organizations: Spanish Club, 4-H, St. Ambrose Youth Ministry

Plans after high school: Attend college, major in mechanical engineering

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite TV show: “The Office”

Favorite movie: “Facing the Giants”

Favorite athlete: Ken Roczen

Author photo
Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.