Henry Smith, an eighth-grader at Highland Park Middle School, won the Ellen Waters Memorial Championship in Tyler last month, when he bested his quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals opponents in straight sets. That victory, which came a month and a half after he won the Fair Oaks Summer Open here in Dallas, earned him the new title of “super champ.”
This is the highest level of competition within the United States Tennis Association-Texas system, and the only level that competes for national points, said Stephen Cobb, director of competitive tennis for USTA-Texas. Each year, about 700 of the approximately 8,000 competitors in the Texas junior system qualify to the super-champ level.
Smith started playing in kindergarten, visiting the Seay Tennis Center one day a week. He dabbled in other sports until the end of fifth grade, when he decided to focus his efforts solely on tennis.
“The tennis program at HP Seay has been A-plus,” Smith said in a news release. “I highly respect my coaches, and they give me the tools to help me play my best. They not only guide me athletically, but they also advise me on my nutrition needs as well as demonstrating good sportsmanship on and off the court.”
Smith trains at the Seay Center with Neil Kenner and does private training with Jeff Westmeyer.
“Henry has been working extremely hard in practice, improving his weaknesses, enhancing his strengths, maintaining discipline in his technique and shot selection, and focusing on playing the style of game that he wants to be able to play in pressure situations,” Westmeyer said. “It was great to see Henry’s game really come together at the tournament and for him to be able to play under pressure with confidence.”