Coached by his dad, Century sophomore Tommy Edwards is gunning for another conference title

Last spring, Tommy Edwards was awfully good.

After all, Edwards, then a Century freshman, won his first Pacific Conference boys tennis title last May, knocking off top-seeded Anthony Croteau of Newberg in the singles championship HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Dave Edwards (foreground) hits tennis balls to his son, Tommy Edwards, a Century sophomore and returning state tournament qualifier, during a recent practice session in Hillsboro.

Edwards is back to defend that title this year, and because he is just a sophomore, his star should keep on rising.

Though he is still somewhat on the slight side, this season he is noticeably taller — about three inches, he said. He can hit the ball harder. And of course, he has another year of seasoning under his belt, one in which he has vaulted up the United States Tennis Association’s regional rankings for his age HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Century sophomore Tommy Edwards poses with his father and tennis coach, Dave Edwards, after a recent practice session. Edwards was a state tournament qualifier last year.

“Everything’s improved a little bit, so I’m just that much better,” he said last week at Century’s home match against Tigard, where he dusted the Tigers’ top player 6-0, 6-1.

Edwards’ father, Dave Edwards, agrees with the assessment that Tommy has added some power to his game. But that is not his only change.

“He’s gotten a lot smarter over the last year, and his serve has gotten bigger,” noted Dave Edwards, who called his son a “strategist” in terms of his playing style.

Dave would know his son’s improvement as well as anyone. That is because not only is he Tommy’s father, but he is also his primary coach and the tennis director at West Hills Racquet & Fitness Club in Portland.

Tommy’s improvement could spell bad news for the rest of the league and could translate into him becoming even more of a factor at the state level in high school play. After turning back Croteau 6-4, 7-5 in last year’s district final, Edwards advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 6A boys state tournament.

Coming off that successful debut season, Tommy is happy to be back in the Century fold this year.

“It’s fun to be out here with the team, because tennis isn’t really like a team sport, so it’s fun to have a team,” he said.

As his comment might indicate — as well as the fact that he has a tennis instructor for a father — Tommy spends a lot of time outside of the high school scene playing tennis, where it isn’t a team sport, but it is his primary sport.

In fact, after having played basketball for the Jaguars last year, Tommy decided to keep his focus on the tennis court instead this winter. His ranking in the Pacific Northwest region for his age group, Dave noted, has climbed over the past year or so from the 80s to the 20s.

“He just kind of dedicated himself to it,” Dave said. “He’s not playing basketball this year, and he just decided he wanted to do tennis. That’s what he wants to go for.”

That dedication should help him add to the family legacy at Century this spring. Tommy is the third player in his family to represent the Jaguars in high school competition. Older brother Robbie was a district champion in doubles and played at Northern Colorado. Before older sister Katie graduated in 2011, she placed second twice and third twice in girls singles at Class 6A and 5A state tournaments. She is currently a junior on Gonzaga’s women’s team.

In fact, tennis has been a part of Tommy’s life for so long that he really doesn’t remember a time when he was not playing tennis.

“It’s fun,” Tommy said. “It’s frustrating sometimes when I lose, but I like it. I enjoy doing it.”

It is easy to see why, especially when it is leading to more opportunities for him. Of course, Tommy plays in plenty of tournaments in the area, but last summer he qualified to represent the region for a team tournament in Texas, something his dad called “a big deal for him.”

Just another step up the ladder for the young star. And now he is back around to another spring and another high school season. He is ready for it.

“I’m always looking forward to districts and state,” Tommy said.

With him back and better than ever, that is bad news to the ears of a lot of local boys tennis players.

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