By David Krueger Herald Writer
Patrick Chung enjoys following in his family’s footsteps.
The Cascade junior is preparing for the upcoming high school tennis season, after reaching the state tournament as a sophomore.
His secret weapon? Playing against his father.
Chung squares off against his father, who plays tennis recreationally, for practice. He doesn’t always win, but he believes he always learns something.
“It’s pretty even. He’s better at strategy than me,” Chung said. “He gets the crucial points so he wins most of the matches, but every once in a while I slip one in.”
He occasionally plays against another family member, his older brother Chris, as well. Patrick began playing tennis at the age of 11, when Chris decided to try out for the Bruins’ team as a sophomore.
Now it’s Patrick’s turn to shine, and Chung is excited to get back on the court.
“There’s just so many things to love about tennis,” Chung said. “Going out there, the exercise is great. And the competitiveness, that’s probably one of the things I love the most.”
All the practice has made Chung the No. 1 singles player for Cascade in his first two seasons, a title he will carry into his third year. Last season Chung went 12-4 while making his way to the 4A state tournament.
He was rewarded with a first round match against Mitch Stewart of Federal Way, who defeated Chung 6-1, 6-0 — his first victory on his way to a state championship.
“It was a great experience,” Chung said of the state tournament. “Of course there were a lot of great players there, like Mitch Stewart, who I had to face in the first round. It was a lot of fun, just seeing all the great tennis and learning how they play.”
Chung rebounded from his first round defeat with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Gig Harbor’s Ryan Anderson, before being eliminated from the tournament with a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Stanwood Spartan Gergo Muller.
“He definitely had an excited energy,” said Cascade head coach Ashley Layton. “He didn’t really know what to expect because he hadn’t been there before. He performed really well. He rose to the challenge I think.”
The Bruin believes seeing the elite competition in the state has prepared him to make another run at the tournament as a junior. His coach agrees.
“We want to build on what we did last year,” Layton said. “Just keep on improving. That’s our goal.”
Layton, who is entering her sixth year as the Cascade coach, said the two weren’t necessarily expecting Chung to get to the state tournament, but she also wasn’t completely surprised that he made it there.
“It was something that we had been working towards the whole year. We thought that he had a chance to go, but we weren’t expecting it to happen,” Layton said.
Chung said that getting a taste of the state tournament provided a drive and desire to return to the postseason.
“I want to go back and do a lot better,” Chung said, adding that he’d like a top-5 finish. “And now I know how good the competition is over there.”
Layton enjoys having Chung, a team co-captain, on the Bruins. She said that not only does he work hard every day to improve his own tennis game, he also works with other members of the Cascade team to make sure they’re improving too.
“It’s so much fun to work with Patrick,” Layton said. “He listens and helps his teammates. It’s a coach’s dream to have a player so invested in improving his own skills and the skills of his teammates.”
Chung would love to play sports beyond high school, but he can’t decide between tennis and baseball, which his older brother Chris also played at Oak Harbor.
One thing he has decided is his dream school: the University of Washington, where his brother Chris currently goes.
He’s not entirely positive what he might study there, but he has an idea. Much like tennis, a particular occupation is prevalent in the Chung family.
“I’m not really sure at the moment, but one idea I possibly have is business,” Chung said. “My dad was actually a business major and my brother is a business major. So that runs in the family as well.”
Chung has set a few goals for his junior season which, unsurprisingly, involves a return to the state tournament. However, he also hopes that his Bruins teammates have strong seasons as well.
“I’m feeling pretty good. The team has a lot of potential. I guess it all depends on how well we execute,” Chung said. “…Individually, I guess make it back to state is the main goal. As a team, finish first in the standings, of course.”
With Chung leading the way, Layton hopes that result is exactly what happens.
“I’m excited for the season,” Layton said. “I think that Cascade has a very strong group of guys this year. I’m looking forward to a very fun, successful year.”
And Chung’s said that if he is fortunate enough to get back to state, he’ll be much better off and significantly less nervous than he was in 2012. (The state tournament is in May, six months after the end of the regular season).
“Coming in as a sophomore I didn’t really know what to expect,” Chung said. “This coming year if I make it back I’ll be a lot more prepared.”