When it came to Sterling High School tennis this year, sophomore Brian Ward was the epitome of getting the job done for the Rangers.
Excelling in both individual and team tennis this year, Ward made the jump from district JV doubles champion as a freshman to big timer on the varsity.
“I knew as a sophomore Brian would have to make a big impact in his first year on Varsity,” Sterling head coach John Tremmel said.
Ward finished 16-5 overall in doubles and 16-4 in single in the fall, team season and even as the spring got shut down just short of the Class 21-6A district meet, he finished 13-6 in doubles for a combined 45-15 win regardless of who he played with.
He also did this while playing for the top tennis program in the area and that cemented his spot as the Baytown Sun’s No. 5 Top Varsity Newcomer for the 2019-20 sports season.
“I just hate losing: I can’t stand to lose,” Ward said. “When I learned about tennis and it’s such a mental game, I found out you can mentally beat someone without even having to be better than them. I have loved that about the game. I try to get under their skin and get them as mad as possible.
“That was our strategy: Make them mad, hop on them quickly and take them from there.”
Ward helped propel the Rangers to second place in district play, only behind powerhouse Deer Park and a bi-district playoff win over Atascocita – where he swept his singles and doubles matches.
In the spring, Ward teamed up with senior Ryan Jones to form what was the No. 1 double teams in the district right as the tournament approached.
“I knew we could be good in doubles with the experience of Jones, but the key factor was how Ward would step up in A doubles,” Tremmel said. “After the firth couple of tournaments, it was going better than I expected. He stepped in with Jones and immediately they became a dominant team. I was very impressed with the way they were competing, and I believe they would have competed with anyone in the Region.
“Brian brings a competitive attitude to every practice and match. He is constantly looking to develop his game and become a better player on the court. Brian was also voted on by his teammates for the Heart Award and the ACE award this spring. This goes a long way of showing Brian’s character at every match and competition.”
Ward and Jones won the Baytown Invitational, took fourth at Humble and sixth out of 32 teams in a stacked Coppell tournament.
In the fall, Ward played singles with both Bryce Stork and Lauren Perry before locking on with Jones.
After moving up, Ward says he made sure to play with the older players in the offseason played a big role in his jump.
“It overall prepared me well,” Ward said. “Also, just having a team that’s so competitive really motivated me to keep practicing and stay on top of my game. That helped me the most.”
Ward wants to see his place on the team rise further on the team ladder and wants to collect bigger hardware.
“I got to experience more variety of players for next season and work on my consistency,” Ward said. “It’s about more spin and power and be more aggressive on the court.
“By the end of the summer I hope to be No. 1 or 2 for the varsity lineup,” Ward said.