Player of the week: Michael Willard ’19

Zachary Farrell '21, Staff Writer

The crowd erupts as South varsity tennis captain Michael Willard ’19 rockets an overhead shot at his Brother Rice opponent to win the game. Willard pumps his fist in excitement, cheering on nearby teammates.

Willard started playing tennis at a very young age, but out of all the coaches and mentors he’s had throughout his 14-year career, the person he attributes his success to the most is his dad.

“Growing up, my brothers, my whole family really, played tennis. It’s been a big part of not only what my parents do, but also what my cousins do. We always play tennis together,” Willard said. “It’s a family experience.”

Willard is currently the number two ranked tennis player for South. He said he enjoys singles because of the ‘individual’ aspect of it- it is less of a team sport and more of the responsibility is placed on himself.

“I know whether I play good or bad, I’m always responsible for what happens,” Willard said.

One of the team’s goals going into the season was to win the MAC Red division, the highest ranked Macomb area conference. Willard said that he helped them accomplish this not only by trying hard on the court, but also by cheering on his teammates during their matches.

“I really try hard to encourage other players, whether I’m on the court or after I finish my match, so that they know someone else is rooting for them,” Willard said. “Tennis is a very individual sport and sometimes it can get a little lonely on the court.”

So far, Willard’s support has yielded positive results; the team has started off the year strong, going undefeated for their first 17 matches. They hope to keep this momentum going against the number one ranked team, Brother Rice, and make it to States, Willard said.

“(The Brother rice match) will be a really close one for us. If we play well we have a good shot at winning,” Willard said. “But if we don’t play well we have a really good shot at losing the match.”