After dispatching his opponent at Clermont Northeastern in about 20 minutes April 17, Felicity-Franklin High School junior Devon Denune then went to an adjacent court and got in some more work.
In order to get a complete sweat in, Denune took on junior teammate Travis Waters and freshman Jared Boeckmann, dazzling them with rocket serves and shots between the legs. During a normal match, he doesn’t showboat, but in post-match workouts, anything goes.
The Cardinals have had a pretty good year thanks to their No. 1 singles player, who didn’t even pick up a racquet until he was in eighth grade.
“I originally learned it from my father. He’s the gym teacher (at Felicity-Franklin),” Denune said. “I started playing over the summer at tennis camps like UK’s and NKU’s. From there, I’ve just been playing year round at Anderson’s Mercy Healthplex.”
The former basketball player got the initial push from his mother, who was looking for something to keep him active. She bought the racquets and the father took over instructions on hitting.
“As soon as I picked one up, it was better than basketball,” Denune said. “Tennis has really connected with me.”
Denune is usually “da man” as many of his matches end quickly. He has had better competition with Western Brown and New Richmond’s first singles players. Though most of his matches are brief, he once played three hours with Goshen’s No. 1.
The Cardinals can be defeated, but most afternoons there’s only four matches to be had as Denune typically prevails in short order.
In the postseason as a sophomore, Denune received a first-round bye, then lost in round two. This spring all eyes are forward.
“My main goal for this year and next is to get to districts and possibly state,” Denune said.
In a league not noted for big servers, Denune is a hammer.
“I enjoy my serve a lot,” he said. “It makes a lot of people struggle. I’d say that’s the best part of my game.”
In addition to having a volley with his teammates afterward, he helps them work on their game. Seniors Dylan Foster and Austin May have teamed up successfully in doubles for Felicity-Franklin and occasionally play singles.
Beyond Felicity-Franklin, Denune is eyeing Northern Kentucky University for tennis. As a freshman two years ago, he would receive compliments from other teams. As a sophomore, he became noticed and now he’s a known commodity wherever coach Ralph Adams pulls up the transportation van.
The big blonde kid with the big serve hopes to expand his reputation with a few more aces up his red Cardinal tennis-shirt sleeve in the coming weeks.