Anacortes senior Luke Rutz had a solid season on the tennis courts.
He qualified as an alternate for the Class 2A State Tournament after placing fourth in the singles bracket of the Bi-District 2A Tournament.
For his efforts, Rutz is the Skagit Valley Herald Boys’ Tennis Player of the Year.
Rutz, who played doubles his first three years in the high school tennis program, decided to make the change to singles this season.
And he certainly made the most of it.
“I was very happy about the way my season went,” Rutz said. “I made it far at districts and I’m an alternate to state. I’m hoping it all works out.”
It might just work out that Rutz gets into the state tournament.
He said the player who qualified ahead of him may not be able to participate.
“He’s a good track athlete,” Rutz said. “He may have a decision to make.”
In the meantime, Rutz has plenty of time to not only work on his tennis game, but his efforts as a diver on the Seahawks’ swim team.
He also plays on Anacortes’ soccer team and on a local club soccer team.
Rutz said he improved his all-around game this season, particularly his strength.
“I am bigger and stronger than I was a year ago,” he said. “My ground strokes really improved. That extra strength really helped. It helped a lot.”
And he didn’t spend time in the weight room. Rather, it was a summer job that bulked him up.
“I carried kayaks around,” he said with a laugh.
His mental game also got stronger.
“I’m not so worried about scoring every point,” Rutz said. “I wanted to be more consistent and let my opponent make the mistakes. The mental part of tennis is big. You have to let a bad shot go and stay focused.”
His play at the net is what he said sets him apart from others.
And what about giving up doubles for singles his senior season?
“It wasn’t that hard,” he said of making the switch. “My dad plays a lot of tennis and he played in college, so we play singles all the time. It was an easy switch.”
While Rutz is involved in numerous athletic endeavors — the latest being rock climbing and pickleball — he started playing tennis at the age of 4.
He stopped playing in middle school before picking it up again in high school.
It’s a sport he can play for years to come.
“You see elderly people playing tennis at the courts all the time,” he said. “You can certainly play tennis longer than you can soccer.”
After high school, Rutz plans on attending an in-state four-year college.
He’d like to continue to play tennis, even if it’s only at an intramural level.
“I’d like to play in college if possible,” he said.
When he isn’t involved in athletic endeavors, Rutz likes to settle in and read a good book. He just finished John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and has picked up Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”
“I like to read,” he said. “I’m not sure I’ll make it through ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ but we’ll see.”
Just like he’ll have to wait and see about playing in the state tennis tournament.
“It will be fine either way,” he said. “I’ll be ready to go if I get the chance.”