This is the fourth in a series highlighting Gannett Central Wisconsin Media’s athletes of the year for the spring season.
WAUSAU – Ask Sean Bailey about his spring season, and the Wausau West sophomore will tell you that it was “pretty good.”
That might be understating things a bit.
Bailey, who is Gannett Central Wisconsin Media boys tennis player of the year, is the top-ranked player in the state for boys players 16 years and younger. He posted a 31-1 record, won a Wisconsin Valley Conference and sectional championship and reached the third round of the WIAA state individual boys tennis tournament. He is competing in top junior tournaments on two continents and is headed to an elite tennis academy in August.
His only loss this year was to Brookfield East’s David Horneffer, who reached the state championship match at Division 1 singles play.
The 6-1, 6-1 result still bothers Bailey, nearly a month after the match.
“He was a very consistent player and I just think his fitness level was just better than mine,” Bailey said.
That disappointing end to the year has motivated Bailey, who has had little time away from the tennis court since the state tournament in June.
Last month he competed in a United States Tennis Association Midwest junior championship in Indianapolis. Last weekend he left for England with his parents, Paul and Sarah, and will compete in four open junior tournaments over the next month, played on grass and clay courts. His first match will be in Manchester.
It is part of the continuing development for Bailey, who is the top-ranked player in the state for boys age 16 and younger.
The left-hander finished second in the Wisconsin Valley Conference tournament as a freshman, and didn’t drop a set in conference play this spring — either in WVC dual play or the tournament — as he rolled to the championship.
He beat Marshfield’s Brad Gadke 6-2, 6-0 in the title match.
“I knew it was going to be a tough one,” Gadke said after the title match. “You have to be good on every point to win a point. You can’t take one off against him. This late in the day it gets tough to dig down in that second set and get a shot.”
Bailey won’t be defending his title next spring, however. He was accepted into the John Newcombe Tennis Academy on a full scholarship. He leaves for the New Braunfels, Texas, academy in August, shortly after he returns from England.
Bailey was accepted to the academy, which develops junior tennis players, after a series of tryouts that began more than a year ago. He has visited the academy twice during that process and was matched against academy attendees.
“I’m pretty excited for the opportunity,” Bailey said. “I feel that around here I am a pretty proven player, but with all the competition down (at the academy) is really going to help me develop me even more.”
Tim Johnson can be reached at 715-845-0731. Find him on Twitter @timmyjo11