For The Tribune
Jonathan Keith enjoyed being outdoors in the fall and spring during his time at Trinity Lutheran High School playing tennis and golf.
This past season, Keith helped the Cougars have a record-setting season.
“I’ve played golf for a long time, so I’m used to the challenge,” he said. “Succeeding is definitely a big part of it because it’s easy to fail in golf, but it’s hard to succeed. It’s fun and a good thing to do when you’re able to actually play well and have a real good round.”
The recent grad knows Shadowood Golf Course course pretty well working at the Cougars’ home course the past two seasons.
“Most people prefer the front nine, but I like the back nine better,” Keith said. “I play a draw, and the trouble on the front nine is all to the left, so that makes me a little bit worried because I cut the ball more into trouble. On the back nine, it’s all to the right, so that makes it a little easier for me to play.”
Keith said he needs to work on his accuracy hitting off the tee, but his irons and putts worked well this spring.
“My irons are what have helped me be somewhat competitive,” he said. “I’ve been able to put the ball close and give myself some easy putts. You want to make sure you land it on the front of the green and have it roll up, especially at Shadowood because the greens can be hard at times, especially if it hasn’t rained at all that week.
“My putting has definitely been the best since I’ve been in high school. I’ve actually been putting well for the first time in my life.”
He said his low score for nine holes is 38 in a match at Timbergate in Edinburgh, and his low for 18 is 81.
He said he had never played tennis prior to his sophomore year at Trinity.
Keith switched between No. 2 and No. 3 singles his sophomore year and for most of his junior year before playing a couple of matches at No. 1 singles, and he filled that position for most of last fall.
When he moved up to No. 1 singles, he said he could definitely tell he was facing the top player from the other school.
“It was a world of difference from playing one and two,” he said. “It might not seem like it, but it really is. They hit the ball a lot harder with more spin. It’s just a different experience than playing against someone else.”
Keith said his success depended on how well he got his first serves in.
“If I could get my first serves in, that was an easy point,” he said. “I could hit the ball really hard, and usually, I could hit my backhand fairly well compared to my forehand, so when people tried to hit it to my backhand, thinking it was a weaker shot, that was usually what I preferred to play.”
He liked to take advantage of his height in matches.
“I’m a taller person, so naturally, playing up at the net could be a big advantage versus someone who would be smaller,” Keith said.
On the calendar, Keith preferred the home matches.
“The tennis courts are pretty nice,” Keith said. “There were a couple tennis courts that we played on that were different from what I would be used to. They’re open, and the parents could just bring their lawn chairs and set them up. I know my mom definitely enjoyed coming and watching all my tennis matches.”
In both of his sports, Keith believes practice makes perfect.
“Practice is important, definitely for golf, I would say,” he said. “It’s just a lot of repetition when it comes to swinging. In tennis, you have to run around the ball, and it’s a little bit more athleticism. Golf is almost like pure repetition. You have to know if you’re (a certain distance) this far out to hit this club with this kind of swing and put this spin on it, and you have to be able to hit that shot consistently and be able to repeat that swing throughout the match.”
He said he enjoyed attending Trinity.
“The teachers prepare you more for more than just college. They also prepare you for life after college and how to succeed and have healthy habits when it comes to studying and whatnot,” Keith said.
“I’ll definitely remember the bus rides to the away matches and back. They were always fun, and just being able to play sports with my friends because it’s a small school and everybody knows each other. It’s definitely nice to know your teammates on a personal level and be pretty good friends with them.”
Name: Jonathan Keith
School: Trinity Lutheran High School
Parents: Jeff and Rachel Lubker, Mike Keith
Sports: Golf, four years; tennis, three years
Athletic awards: Tennis 2016 most valuable player award
Organizations: Choir, robotics, musicals, student ambassador
Plans after high school: Attend Concordia University in Nebraska, study biochemistry and secondary education and play tennis
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite TV show: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
Favorite musician: Martin Garrix
Favorite movie: “Forrest Gump”
Favorite athlete: Jordan Spieth