Cane claims state singles, doubles titles
by David Royal
Jul 03, 2011 | 2356 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cartersville's Trevor Gotkowski has come a long way since he started playing tennis at the insistence of his father.

Gotkowski is now the proud owner of the USTA Georgia State Jr. Clay Court Open singles and doubles championships, earning them last week.

Gotkowski, a rising junior at Cartersville High and a two-year starter on its tennis team, claimed those titles in the 18-and-under division on June 28.

Before claiming his singles title, the Cane tennis star was viewed at best as a dark horse to win, being seeded as 12th in his division.

He surprised the field and won the singles title without losing a set. He did not surprise himself, however.

"I knew I had a chance to win after looking at my draw in the tournament and realizing I'd beaten every one I was playing," he said.

Still, it wasn't exactly smooth serving for the tennis player.

He said he won his first four matches by focusing on them one at a time.

Gotkowski said that forced him to devote all his attention to the only match that matters -- the one he's playing.

"By thinking of only that match, I was able to come up with better game plans," he said. "If I don't do that, I start thinking of future opponents. Then I can lose because I am not giving my best against my opponent on the court."

Still, he said he found himself on the short end of a 1-4 score against Spain Short of Westminster, his opponent in his final match of the tournament.

Gotkowski said he changed his game plan: "I decided if he was going to beat me, he'd have to beat me by hitting winners [placing the ball on the court where Gotkowski couldn't make a return]. It turned out he couldn't handle that and the next thing I knew I'd won the set. I came back to win 6-4."

Short was not the tournament's No. 1 seed but was, instead, its No. 7 seed.

Gotkowski said he played the No. 1 seed earlier in the quarterfinals, winning 6-3, 6-1.

Gotkowski said his doubles play presented challenges, too.

He noted he and Matthew Hill of Marietta -- who he's known about three years -- had signed up to play together and had high hopes to win, too.

"Our first match was the toughest," he said. "We were down 1-5 but came back to win, 9-8."

The two were undefeated in doubles play.

Two state championship trophies are not bad for a tennis player whose roots are in baseball.

That's where Gotkowski got his start in tennis -- with a rude introduction authored by his father.

"About three or four years ago I was playing baseball, and my father said I needed to get mentally tough," he recalled.

He said that was followed by a visit with Misty Lancaster, who was then the professional tennis pro at Dellinger Park.

"She asked if I wanted to play tennis," he recalled. "I gave her the honest answer that no, I was being dragged into it. My dad said 'he's playing tennis whether he likes it or not.'"

The honest answer quickly changed.

Gotkowski said after he played a while, his attitude turned around:

"As I played more, I liked it more. Now I love it. When I'm playing in a tournament, whether singles or doubles, it's very competitive. I just love that competitiveness."

He admitted his success may have something to do with that attitude change: "I never thought I could be in the top 30 of players in the South. Now I think I'm No. 25 in South."

The Cane still is not ready to set aside his tennis racket for the summer, despite earning the hardware that accompanies two state titles.

Gotkowski is one of 23 Southern Section qualifiers for the Boys 16s USTA National Clay Court Championships, starting July 17 in Delray Beach, Fla. He also will be competing in the USTA National Championships starting Aug. 5 in Kalamazoo, Mich.