St. Michael star Cameron Andry has been a tennis fan since before he could walk. ... And his mother has a photo to prove it.
Pictures provide snapshots of our lives. Sometimes, they offer a sign of things to come. And Krista Andry has the photo to prove it.
At 9 months old, Cameron Andry wasn’t quite ready to walk on his own. The would-be tennis player had a racket and ball with him.
“We still have the picture,” Krista Andry said. “I saw it not long ago. There he was in a walker with a racket and ball.”
The 17-year-old Andry, of St. Michael the Archangel, still doesn’t stray too far from a racket or a court. He practices between 20 to 25 hours a week chasing his future.
“I’d like to commit to a college early so I can focus more on physical training and getting ready for college,” Andry said. “I’d like to slow down some on the USTA tournaments so I can practice a lot and get better techniquewise. But at this point, I really don’t know what will happen.”
Andry doesn’t know what to expect, at least in part because colleges were not allowed to contact a senior-to-be until Tuesday based on NCAA rules.
Make no mistake about it, Andry does rule on the court. He is 49-0 in singles with three state titles in three high school seasons, including an 18-0 record as a junior for Division II St. Michael.
But in tennis, it’s not the high school season that matters, it’s the United States Tennis Association junior circuit that does. Two weeks ago, Andry played in the Southern Closed Junior Championships in Mobile, Alabama, with a number of college coaches watching. He heads to Delray Beach, Florida, for a national clay court tournament that should showcase his baseline game next week.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Andry said. “Most of the pressure is what I put on myself. My parents never pressure me. They love tennis, but they just want me to have fun and be happy.”
What makes the 5-foot-10, 145-pound Andry happy these days?
The perfect forehand? A chance to spend time with friends? Or a day when at least one of his rackets doesn’t have to be restrung? Try all of the above.
Andry drew the ire of his coach Jason Noonan on Monday when the strings broke on the one racket he brought for a morning practice.
“He knew I was frustrated with him,” Noonan said. “I got up early that morning to restring my racket so I’d be able to hit with him. That’s what you get with a 17-year-old. Sometimes they don’t think to bring a second racket.”
Noonan doesn’t mince words when asked about Andry’s potential.
“I feel like he has the chance to play at a high level in college, but just how high I can’t say because I’m not part of that process,” Noonan said. “His forehand is special, and it’s a weapon. The key to getting better now is making other parts of his game weapons. Like his serve, which is good but can be better.
“Cameron is a talented player. In some ways, he’s only scratched the surface of what he’s capable of. If he gets in the right college program and dedicates himself, he can be even better.”
Most junior players like Andry have a split tennis identity. Explaining the differences between high school and United States Tennis Association tennis is one of the challenges he faces regularly.
“Nobody really gets it,” Andry said. “People think winning a high school state title is a bigger deal than winning a USTA tournament. The opposite is true. The USTA tournaments are a lot harder.
“The top kids from across the country play the USTA tournaments. In high school, it’s your locals who play tennis, which is good. There is less pressure to play high school tennis.
“During the high school season, I’m with my friends, and it’s more of team thing, which I like. We all cheer for and support each other, which isn’t something you see as much at USTA tournaments. You applaud good shots, but it’s different.”
One person who does get it is Andry’s mother. Krista Andry, who now runs BREC’s Independence Park tennis facility, played high school and USTA. She helped Broadmoor High win a national team title in 1981 and played two years at a Texas junior college before playing singles and doubles at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Tennis is a family affair. His father, Keith, is the one who restrings all those rackets. Older brother Collin won a state title as a doubles player at St. Michael.
“Cameron has always been determined and competitive,” Krista Andry said. “I remember one time when he lost it was really tough, and I thought that might be it. He might want to quit. But he went out and hit off of a wall for about six hours.
“We’ve talked about what it’s like to play in college. There are sacrifices. When I was playing USTA, I’d miss things at home. It was the same in college. But there’s always something else you can do with your friends.”
One of Andry’s friends, Parkview Baptist standout Chris Anders, provides a glimpse into what it’s like to face him.
“It’s like hitting against a wall,” Anders said. “Whatever you hit over ... you know he’s going to return. Cameron is so consistent.”
The consistency extends beyond the courts. Andry carries a 4.0 grade point average and plans to pursue medical-related college major.
“You have to learn how to manage your time,” Andry said. “I have to make time for tennis, school and friends. I’ve had a lot of years experience, and I don’t want to let people down.”