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Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Brad Schug

Most high school athletes don't have any interaction with a coach between practices. Brad Schug has plenty.

Schug's dad, Steven Schug, is an assistant coach for the Francis Scott Key tennis team so when Brad leaves the court, he still gets round-the-clock coaching.

Perhaps some of those extra tips helped the junior to repeat as the county champion, reach the quarterfinals of the state tournament, and finish with a 21-3 record, earning Times Boys Tennis Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive season.

"There's some tension at times, but overall I know he's just trying to help me," Brad Schug said. "It's a lot easier to talk about things and get help when it's somebody you're just so close with."

Father and son talk tennis on and off the court, and Brad says his dad will let him know how he played as soon as possible. The two said they discuss tennis at any given opportunity and use what they see from professionals to improve Brad's game.

"Even right now, the French Open is on and we still talk about what we see there and how I could implement some of those strategies," Brad Schug said. "It's not a constant thing, but the thought is always there if a conversation pops up."

Schug said having frequent conversations with his dad helps to keep his game consistent and that it makes it easier to work on technique on a daily basis.

Last season, Schug ran through the county never losing a match, but the competition got a little harder this year when a county rival also improved his game.

Westminster sophomore Nathan Devereux emerged as Schug's toughest opponent, finishing with a 2-2 record against Schug. Both of Devereux's wins came in straight sets, the second one coming in the District VII championship match.

It was the second championship match of the season for the two, as Schug got the better of Devereux, dominating him in the county boys singles final 6-3, 6-4.

No matter the adversity Schug faced throughout the season, he always keeps his composure and seems to easily forget mistakes and move on to the next point.

It helps that Schug displays a rare combination of power and agility. He can blast a serve past an opponent for an ace and he can rally to win points, covering a lot of court in a little bit of time.

"It's just like basketball, if you miss a couple shots you just have to move on to the next play," Brad Schug said. "Every point or play you just have to move on and I've developed that mental state to realize that one point isn't going to make or break you that bad, it's not that big of a deal."

Steve Schug said his son wasn't always so composed, and used to play more emotionally. But when he started high school he could see Brad was maturing and handling his emotions while he was on the court.

Although there are many benefits to having someone available at all hours to talk tennis with, there may be a slight drawback.

Most coaches don't have insight as to what athletes are doing in their spare time, but Steve Schug knows what Brad likes to do in his spare time.

"I guess if he played as much tennis as he did video games, then he'd probably be all-world," Steve Schug said with a laugh.

Brad said he likes to get outside and go kayaking, fishing, and hunting with his dad, but sometimes he needs a little alone time in his room to relax and play video games.

In addition to tennis, Schug also excels at basketball. The junior was named an all-county hoops player for the second consecutive season.

Playing at a high level on the hardwood court might seem it could hurt Schug's game on the tennis court, especially considering that he doesn't like to play at indoor clubs.But both sports involve lateral movement and quickness.

In the offseason Schug said he hits as much as he can with his dad. As his son's game has improved, Steve Schug said he can't give Brad much of a match anymore.

"He gets the better of me, no doubt ... it's been fun to see him improve and now he kicks my butt," Steve Schug said. "It's difficult, you have to find good competition that's really going to wear him out and I can't provide that. We can go play for several hours and I always get a nice workout, but I can't work him as hard as he needs to."

Schug will try to find that type of competition this offseason as he readies for his senior and goes after a rare county three-peat and seeks to go even deeper into the state tournament.

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