Ryan Long wasn’t smacking serves or belting backhands the last time a Ripon High School singles player qualified for the WIAA State Tennis Tournament.
He was 2-years-old at the time.
Long became the first state qualifier in singles since 1996 when he finished fourth at the WIAA Division 2 East Troy sectional last week.
“It feels nice to put Ripon on the map a little bit,” Long said. “It’s been very exciting. Everyone has been very supportive. … It’s nice to get the recognition.”
Long said just getting through his first match at sectionals — a win over Tim Vallon of McFarland — was a nerve-wracking experience.
“I was very, very nervous playing my match, but when I came out and everyone was saying ‘Congratulations,’ it sunk in (I was going to state),” Long said. “It’s definitely hard to keep playing once you know you qualified. It’s kind of all you think about.”
Now Long turns his attention to his first match today at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium, where he will face Peter Jaeger of St. Thomas More.
The senior hopes his experience lasts more than one match and is focused on giving his best effort in Madison.
“(This week), I just played as much tennis as possible so I can go there feeling good,” Long said. “I’m trying to go with the mindset that I’m going to play the best tennis that I can, hope that it’s good enough to win as many matches as possible.”