Kyungmun Baek is not cut from the same mold as many other top tennis players.The Jay M. Robinson junior, the No. 1 singles player on one of the best teams in the South Piedmont Conference, does not play in U.S. Tennis Association junior tournaments. He doesnt take lessons or attend clinics.Baek plays his tennis almost exclusively during the high school season, a rarity in todays world of year-round competitive sports.He makes up for his lack of court time with a demeanor that is not often imitated by many high school tennis players.Baek commits unforced errors like everyone else, but his ability to shake them off and focus on the next point is often what separates him from his foes.The Bulldog waits for his opponents to make their mistakes and succumb to their inabilities to cope with them. Its a formula Baek has used to his advantage for two years.My main thing is my mentality, he said. I dont get frustrated too much. I can stay cool no matter what kind of day it is. I think that wins a lot of matches for me. And I like my backhand. It goes well for me. I can rely on it a lot.It has been four years since Baek played juniors tournaments not affiliated with his high school team. Tennis is only part of his high school experience.He spends part of his time concentrating on his other interest, Future Business Leaders of America. Baek has missed a couple of matches over the last couple seasons because he has been attending FBLA competitions.Coach Mark Driscoll said Baek is a well-rounded student-athlete. On the court, Driscoll describes Baek as being a serve-and-volley player.Hes not overpowering, he said. Usually the No. 1 guys are so powerful. Hes got a good first and second serve placement. When he serves, he volleys. He has tremendous top spin and drop shots and he moves the ball around.With all six players back in its starting lineup, Baek hopes Robinson can dethrone Concord as SPC champs. It wont be easy. The Spiders have five of their top six players back as well.The two teams, the front runners in the SPC, will meet twice. The first meeting will be March 6 at Robinson, while the rematch will be played April 8 at Les Myers Park, Concords home courts.Concord swept the season series in 2012 on its way to a perfect conference record. Robinsons only league blemishes last season were to the Spiders.As a sophomore, Baek established an 8-6 conference record in the No. 1 singles spot. One of his biggest victories last year was over Concords top player, Mason Croley, who was a senior.The two all-conference players battled in a couple of nail-biting matches. Baek won the first one at Concord by a score of 6-2, 6-7, 10-5. The rematch at Robinson also went to a third set with Croley winning 6-4, 6-2, 10-4.Baek split matches with another one of the SPCs top players, Hickory Ridge senior Kevin Baker. Baek won 6-2, 6-1 at home but lost at Hickory Ridge 3-6, 4-6.Northwest Cabarrus Kyle Kennedy and Cox Mills Victor Nechar both swept Baek last year.Baeks greatest achievement may have come with doubles partner Mike Messina, Robinsons No. 2 player. Last year, they elected to play together as a doubles team in the SPC tournament instead of entering as singles players.They lost in the semifinal round but won out in the losers bracket and qualified for regionals. Baek and Messina won a first round match at regionals and bowed out in round two.Rounding out Robinsons lineup will be junior Parker Teal at No. 3, senior Ben Davis at No. 4 as well as senior Ryan Alvarado and junior Kyle Bachner, who are battling for the fifth and sixth spots.
Tuesday, Mar. 05, 2013
Jay M. Robinson's No. 1 singles player takes different approach
Jay M. Robinson junior Kyungmun Baek is one of the top tennis players in the South Piedmont Conference. JOE HABINA
Other tennis players to watch • Casey Aldridge, Concord • B.J. Beecher, Concord • Ryan Harvey, Concord • Kyle Kennedy, Northwest Cabarrus • Mike Messina, Robinson • Grant O’Brien, Concord