Ardrey Kell senior tennis player Josh Du Toit said he felt overwhelmed last season.It was his first year of high school varsity tennis, though he’d played the sport since he was 4 years old growing up in South Africa. The 2013 spring semester also was his first in a high school, after being home-schooled most of his life so he could focus on tennis.Despite not practicing as much because of his increased workload at school, Du Toit finished 15-3 in singles’ matches as a junior. He won the Southwestern 4A singles tournament and the 4A West Regional singles tournament before losing in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.Now that he’s used to the high school experience, Du Toit said, he is shooting for a state title. “I’m more comfortable around here and, just in general, it’s nice to be acquainted with your teammates and know everything a lot better,” Du Toit, 18, said. “I’m looking forward to states just because I think I can do a lot better this year, and it’s a goal of mine.” Du Toit, who moved to Charlotte when he was 7, is the No. 4-ranked senior recruit in North Carolina, according to TennisRecruiting.net and finished 2013 ranked No. 2 in state USTA boys’ 18 division. He has signed to play at UNC Wilmington next year. Earlier this year, Du Toit was named U.S. Tennis Association’s North Carolina Male Junior Player of the Year. Ardrey Kell coach Roy Hudson, who has led the Knights since the school opened in 2006, said Du Toit’s success in high school stems from his extensive USTA tournament experience. “I joked at the awards ceremony last year that (when) he grew up, he didn’t have a rattle in his hand, he had a tennis racquet,” Hudson said. “He is just so comfortable on the court.”“He’s amazing,” Hudson said. “He moves so well. He makes it look just second nature to him.”Hudson said the 5-foot-10 Du Toit’s strengths are his movement, his anticipation on the court and his hands. “He can do things with a tennis ball that a lot of kids just can’t do,” Hudson said. “He creates shots. He’s like an artist out there.” Du Toit lost to Northwest Guilford’s Kyle Schlanger 6-2, 7-5 in the 2013 4A state quarterfinals. “It was a lot of motivation,” Du Toit said. “It kind of put me in check.”In addition to wanting an individual title, Du Toit believes his team can have a successful season this year. The senior captain will be joined by senior co-captain Karthik Arunkumar, who lost to Du Toit in the final of the conference tournament last year. Junior Michael Robertson also returns to the team’s top-six singles, and Hudson said he is excited about some freshman who could make the top six this season.“I’m just trying to motivate my team and myself, really, just to stay on top of matches,” Du Toit said. “Last year we had a couple slide away from us at 5-4 that I feel like we could have definitely had. “We could have gone undefeated last year and I feel like we’re more deep this year, so my goal for the team is to try and to go undefeated regular season and see where it takes us from there.” If Du Toit or the team can win a state title, it will be the first for Ardrey Kell boys’ tennis. “We get far, we get deep, but we never, you know, we have never won a state title,” Hudson said. “So I’m hoping Josh can go all the way this year and at least get an individual title. And his role as a captain is going to hopefully motivate this team, too, because I want to see them do well as a team.”
Tuesday, Mar. 04, 2014
Ardrey Kell’s Josh Du Toit wants title for himself and his team
Five boys’ tennis players to watch
• Karthik Arunkumar, Ardrey Kell, Sr. – Knights’ co-captain finished second in the Southwestern 4A conference tournament to teammate Josh Du Toit.
• Alex Brea, Providence Day, Jr. – Was undefeated at No. 2 singles last season, helping the Chargers to a second straight state title.
• Riley Brosnan, Charlotte Catholic, Jr. – Named conference player of the year, won 3A Midwest Regional and finished as runner up at the 3A state tournament.
• Will Turner, Charlotte Country Day, Sr. – All-state selection helped the Buccaneers to the state quarterfinals.
• Michael McGowan, Providence High, Sr. – Won 4A Western Regional doubles title with teammate Duy Hunyh.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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