Ethan Kuhstoss had never played tennis until last year when one of his friends suggested he give it a try – one year later Kuhstoss can't get enough of the sport.
Kuhstoss, Warren County's only boys tennis senior, tried out for the team last year and worked his way into the starting lineup. This season he was slated to be the No. 1 singles player in the team.
"I guess pretty quickly I got really passionate about it," Kuhstoss said. "I tried basketball, played baseball for nine years. I guess I never had the drive to be the best or be competitive really, because I didn't enjoy the sport as much. But this was different I really enjoyed the sport."
Warren County boys tennis coach Erik Breit said that Kuhstoss picked the sport up quickly and also was dedicated to getting better.
"He would stay after practice almost every day and hit with me," Breit said. "He was determined to become better and better and it really showed."
Kuhstoss said that staying after practice to work on his game didn't feel like work at all and made it easier.
"It helps a lot that Mr Breit is a great coach and makes it really easy and fun to put in extra practice," Kuhstoss said. "It's not so much extra work in my mind. It's staying after and hitting with my friends and my coach and teacher that I respect and enjoy being around."
Kuhstoss said that it helped that he had a large group of seniors last year that helped him learn the game.
"Last year was definitely more of a growth year," he said. "I was learning how the sport was played and all the rules and etiquette and all that. But I had a really good time. There were a lot of seniors last year, but they showed me the ropes, and that made me grow a lot quicker in the sport than I anticipated."
Kuhstoss said that his favorite memory from his short time playing tennis with the team was the bus rides to and from games.
"That was a lot of fun, going an hour away to a different school," Kuhstoss said. "Just talking about everything with all of my friends and Mr Breit, the coach, it was really fun."
Kuhstoss said his favorite part of the game is the intensity that comes with playing.
Last season he worked his way up to the No. 5 singles spot and he said he noticed that if he gave a little extra effort it really helped him against his opponents.
"With my inexperience, I think the only thing I had going for me more than them is just the amount of effort I put in," Kuhstoss said. "I noticed at No. 5 and 6 (singles) a lot of people on the other teams weren't running everywhere and sometimes they didn't put in a lot of effort. So I tried to make a conscious effort to put in extra, maybe even an excessive amount, to make sure I got there early and got set up for the ball. That ended up giving me a really big advantage, even though I was just starting."
Last year the Wildcats made it to the regional tournament and lost to a strong Brentsville squad.
Kuhstoss said that his match at No. 5 singles was his most memorable one. He said the match did not get finished, because the rest of his teammates lost so Brentsville clinched the team victory before his singles match was over.
"I had been playing this guy and he was really good," Kuhstoss said. "This was probably one of the best guys that I had played against. Everyone else had lost and we still hadn't finished because we were winning games back and forth and it was taking forever. We were both exhausted, and it was probably the most frustrating match of my short tennis life. But it really made me respect everyone else that played tennis a lot more, because he was playing just as hard as I was and I'm sure he was just as frustrated."
Breit said that Kuhstoss' strength is that he doesn't make many mistakes.
"He is one of the most consistent players that I've played with," Breit said. "He makes his opponent mess up first. He is not going to beat himself. If someone is going to beat Ethan they're going to have to win their match. He's not going to do unforced errors. He's not going to do too much. He knows how to place the ball. He knows when to attack. He knows when to sit back. He's just a very intelligent player, and that's one of the best things about him."
Kuhstoss only got to have three weeks of a senior season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during that time he found himself in a different position. Many of the players on the team were brand new to the sport just like he was last year.
He said that he tried to help the inexperienced players learn the game just like last year's seniors had helped him.
"I was really looking forward to teaching a lot of people," Kuhstoss said. "I did what I could. There were quite a few people who had never played tennis before. A lot of the team picked it up really quickly. I helped give a few pointers when I could. I helped during drills and gave pointers for like forehands and backhands."
Kuhstoss said that he plans to attend either George Mason University or American University this fall and he is hoping to play club or intramural tennis at either school.
He's only played the sport for a year but he said now he can't get enough of it.
"I think it really impacted me in a way that I didn't expect," Kuhstoss said. "But I definitely welcomed it, and I don't think I could really go back to not having it."