By Jeremy Menard
Recently on ESPN Ithaca’s Between the Lines, host Jeremy Menard spoke with Nick Parkes of the Lansing tennis team and discussed his performance at the Section IV State Qualifiers. He defeated teammate Zoli Csaki (6-3, 3-6, 6-2) in the consolation round to become the first player in Bobcats program history to qualify for the New York State Tournament.
Nick was named ESPN Ithaca’s Fueling Excellence Male Athlete of the Week. Here is a snippet of that conversation; to hear the full interview, visit ESPN Ithaca’s on-demand PodCenter at ESPNIthaca.com.
Jeremy Menard: To be headed to Flushing for the state tournament, Nick, what does that mean to you?
Nick Parkes: Heading to Flushing is a dream come true for me. When I switched over from baseball, I told myself I would get there if I was going to switch over. Watching Andy (Nick’s brother) battle for years at state qualifiers and come up short, it really pushed me to get there someday and yeah, it’s a dream come true.
JM: When did you make the switch from baseball to tennis?
NP: After my eighth grade year, so going into ninth grade I started. I had played very little up until then, just watched a lot of tennis, watched Andy and, yeah, decided to make the switch.
JM: So your freshman year, your sophomore year, you’re a junior now. What has it been like chasing that goal the last couple of seasons?
NP: It was a lot of hard work, a lot of tennis balls, a lot of hours outside in the offseason after I’m done playing soccer in the fall. Really the winter months were my time to put the work in and make it happen I guess.
JM: What has been special this year?
NP: I’d say just my will to get through these matches. Towards the end of the season, I had a lot of three-set matches, which I wasn’t really used to, because the competition in our league isn’t as strong as sectional play and state qualifiers. So, I really had to push through those three-set matches. I think that really helped me out.
JM: A three-set match, it’s a marathon. I played some tennis myself. I know by the end there, it’s exhausting. It’s hard.
NP: Yeah, physically and mentally, just keep yourself pushing forward, thinking about the next point. Yes, it’s not only a physical thing, but a huge mental game for me.
JM: How have you seen yourself grow as a tennis player, from when you made that switch, eighth grade going into your freshman season, to where you are now as a state qualifier?
NP: Well, I think my serve has definitely come a long way. When I first started, I was just trying to get it in. Now, it was winning me points at the state qualifiers. My forehand has improved a lot. Basically, all of my strokes have come a long way.
JM: You advanced by beating your teammate Zoli Csaki. What was it like playing against a fellow Lansing player in such a big match?
NP: It was definitely hard to think, you know, I’m playing a teammate. We both tried so hard throughout the year to get to this point. It wasn’t a practice set or a practice match. We were enemies in the final match and basically had to put aside that he was my teammate and try and win the match and not think about it.
JM: You’re two of the top guys on the Bobcats team. I imagine you guys probably play each other a lot. So, how well do you know each other’s game?
NP: We know each other’s game very well. Both had, I’m sure, serious game plan to go about it, different ins-and-outs of each other’s game. How they serve. What parts of the court they hit their forehand to. There was definitely a lot of thought that went into the game plan and preparation.
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The New York State Boys Tennis Tournament is set to take place Thursday, June 1, through Saturday, June 3, at the National Tennis Center in Flushing. Listen to Between the Lines with Jeremy Menard from 4-5 p.m. weekdays on ESPN Ithaca (1160 AM/107.1 FM) and ESPNIthaca.com.