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By Mickey Patterson

CRESTWOOD – Those who thought the South Oldham High School tennis team would fade into obscurity after the graduation of four-time state champion Eric Quigley last spring were sadly mistaken. Powered by the singles tandem of brothers Ryan and Jordan Pitts and a pair of strong doubles teams in Jeppa Stig-Nielson and William Reed and Austin White and Steven Mayborg, the Dragons posted a 17-5 record in the regular season and recently finished as the consolation bracket runners-up in the King of the Bluegrass tourney. “As a coach I can say I am pleasantly surprised with our record,” SOHS coach Wood McGraw said. “A lot of players have made really good improvement from last year.” The Pitts brothers have been a perfect example of that improvement. Ryan, a senior, has held the No. 1 singles spot all season while Jordan, a fifth-grader at Kenwood Station, has held the No. 2 spot. Ryan, who posted an 11-3 record this season, took an unusual route to his senior year after home-schooling his junior year and working intensely in the Springhurst Tennis Center Top Gun Academy. “It’s made all the difference in the world,” Ryan said. “I trained six or seven hours a day and really improved and added to my shots and my overall physical strength.” Ryan said the academy involved two fitness and two hitting sessions a day as well as tourney play. It paid dividends in other ways. “It was much more intense and really helped me mentally,” Ryan said. “I came into my senior year with more confidence and got more playing experience.” Ryan entered this week’s regional tournament as the No. 2 singles seed and is expected to challenge for the title and reach the state tourney. “Last year was definitely a big advantage for me,” Ryan said. “I think I can compete with anybody in the state right now.” Despite being in elementary school and competing against players much older and more mature, Jordan compiled an 8-2 singles record showing no fear in varsity matches. Jordan also trains at Springhurst. “It’s been a lot of fun because I have done well and the team has done well,” Jordan said. “It’s sort of been easier than I thought. I thought the high school players would be harder to beat.” Jordan, 11, finished last summer ranked No. 14 in the region in the USTA rankings in the 10 year-old division and is ranked No. 95 in the 12 year-old division this spring. He has set some lofty goals for his future. “I want to win a regional championship soon,” Jordan said. “Then I want to win the state and not lose more than five matches in a year.”   E-mail us about this story at: sports@oldhamera.com