Hayden Fulk could have hung his head. He instead picked up his racket and prepared for what was next.
The Glendale senior signed to play tennis next year at William Jewell College didn’t let setbacks on the tennis court ruin his final opus in high school tennis.
A year ago, Fulk played No. 2 singles for Glendale behind two-time state silver medalist Micah Klousia, one of the winningest Falcons ever. Now on the tennis team at University of Nebraska, Klousia held Glendale’s No. 1 position in a firm grip. Fulk opted to bide his time for Klousia to graduate and respectfully managed to reach the state doubles quarterfinals in 2015 with partner Spencer Weller.
Fulk entered his senior season expecting to compete with Weller for Glendale’s top singles spot.
“I was going into it with the mentality of I’m going to be No. 1 or Spencer is going to be No. 1,” Fulk said.
Instead, freshman Reed Jarvis, kid brother to Fulk’s best friend and Falcons No. 4 singles player Alec Jarvis, wrenched the No. 1 spot away from three Glendale seniors.
“(Reed Jarvis) earned it. He beat three seniors out,” Glendale coach Bob Cooper said. “They earn their spots by playing each other in challenge matches.”
Fulk said there wasn’t much of a down moment for him after playing through his teammates.
“Our top four is so close. We all played in challenge matches and it turned out that Reed was our No. 1. We all knew that he was coming and he’s a great player,” Fulk said.
Rather than sulk about not winning the top spot, Fulk wrapped his arms around the team concept of high school tennis, where a win for the No. 6 singles player is worth one point, just like a No. 1 singles win is worth one point. Only nine points are contested in a team match.
“I’ve played No. 2 every season. I think that’s a really good spot for me because I get to play No. 1 doubles still,” Fulk said. “If you win a match at No. 1 and then lose the rest of the matches, you’re not going to win a match. You have to win consistently at No. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 to win a match.”
Glendale picked up a win Tuesday afternoon over rival Kickapoo 7-2 at Cooper Tennis Complex. The senior and freshman teamed up to win their No. 1 doubles match by a perfect 8-0, with Fulk serving as a calm and steady partner for Jarvis.
“Hayden has grown probably as much as any kid I’ve had in terms of how he handles situations. He’s matured beyond what you’d expect,” Cooper said.
Glendale holds nine consecutive district championships. Seniors Fulk, Weller and Alec Jarvis helped the Falcons make two consecutive trips to the Class 2 quarterfinals in the state team tournament. They hope for more this postseason.
“I’m extremely proud of how those three have stuck in there together. They’re just like the Three Musketeers,” Cooper said. “They’ve accepted Reed and Reed has fit in very well with them.”
Rock Bridge has eliminated Glendale from the team playoffs for six consecutive years. Last Saturday, the Bruins beat Glendale to win the Mid-Missouri Invitational Tournament championship in Columbia.
Reed Jarvis picked up a win at No. 1 singles, but Fulk suffered a setback with a loss he said he took as a lesson.
“We always know that Rock Bridge is going to be there. I mean, that’s a given,” Fulk said. “It’s good experience going into sectionals because I know that we’ll have to play them to go to state.”
In the individual state tournaments, the Falcons seem to have their lineup chosen. Reed Jarvis will play singles, and Fulk said he intends to team with Weller for the fourth year.
“We’ve done it every year, so we figured, ‘you know what? Our senior year, we’re such good friends, let’s just go for it,’” Fulk said.
Fulk and Weller reached the sectional playoffs twice before breaking through to the state championship tournament as juniors in 2015.
Fulk plans to study business administration and communications at William Jewell. He said he is interested in a career in the business side of sports.