Liberty junior Honour Zan entered his junior season already one of the best tennis players in Carroll County. But this year he took his game to a new level.
Zan had a roadblock in his way to the top in Century’s Jack Amerault, who bested Zan in last year’s county finals and regional semifinals. This season, Amerault took two regular-season meetings from Zan.
But at this year’s county tournament, Zan solved the puzzle. He beat Amerault in straight sets to become boys county champion and kept his strong playing going into the postseason, winning a regional title en route to finishing as Class 1A state runner-up. His postseason run gave the Lions crucial points toward their team state title.
For all the accolades he earned, Zan has one more to add: 2022 Carroll County Times boys tennis Player of the Year.
Zan called this season “different,” mostly due to two factors: work and team.
“I had a lot more chemistry with the team which definitely helped me be more passionate about the game of tennis,” Zan said. “I worked a lot more this season. I put in the hours on the court and practiced my strengths and figured out my weaknesses so I could work my way up to where I got this year.”
“Honour has stated that he worked harder last offseason than ever,” Liberty coach Timothy Brecker said. “He had much more control of his groundstrokes than last year and could attack corners better. In addition, he has a much ‘heavier' serve and can vary speeds to make it more difficult on an opponent.”
The final day of the state tournament was “bittersweet” for Zan. He lost his boys singles state championship match, but saw two sets of teammates — Liberty’s boys and girls doubles teams — win state titles in addition to the team championship.
“I was definitely not fully satisfied,” he said. “I’m ready to go next year and win it all, but my team, I’m happy for them. The only thing that can make it better is to win it all.”
Tennis has been part of Zan’s life for as long as he can remember, saying he’s been playing for 13 or 14 years. He grew up in a tennis family — his father and uncle are coaches — and his older brother, Tyger, played for Liberty and graduated in 2019. He now plays at Stevenson.
“I never had a time where I was not playing tennis,” said Honour, who added that his dad and brother were “big inspirations to my game.”
But despite the game being a family tradition, it was never a chore to Honour.
“When I started playing tennis, I really found a love in the game,” he said. “Definitely there was some of my family wanting me to get better and push me for lessons. I feel like that only made me better and only pushed my love for the game more.”
Much like he entered his junior season aiming to avenge his county championship loss, he’s going into his senior season laser-focused on taking the final step.
“I’m trying to go after that first the state title and I’m doing everything I can to get that done,” he said. “I’m putting in the hours in the summer. I’m focusing on my strengths and weaknesses and getting better so I can win it all.”
That work ethic, along with the team camaraderie, is what he hopes to instill in the new Liberty players coming into a team with championship aspirations.
“Chemistry on the team, we’re really like a family all practicing together and having fun, but also putting in the work, the hard work to get there,” Zan said.
Brecker sees leadership from Zan in more than his on-court presence. He’s a big reason that family atmosphere within the program exists.
“Honour does a great job bringing the team together and doing things off the court,” Brecker said. “Whether it is going to Chili’s after a match or a movie night, he is always helping to coordinate those events. It definitely improved our team chemistry, especially after the pandemic.”
All-County first team
Jack Amerault, Century, senior
Carroll County Daily Headlines
Amerault rolled through the regular season undefeated in county play and finished as county boys singles runner-up to Zan. He won a regional championship and advanced to the 2A state quarterfinals.
Evan DeLawter, Century, senior
DeLawter was a doubles specialist. During the regular season, he teamed with Mark Rolfes as Century’s top team and went 12-1. DeLawter played mixed doubles with his sister, Danielle, in the postseason, and the two won their second straight 2A state championship.
Connor Neal and Declan McGarry, Manchester Valley
Neal and McGarry, both juniors, were the county’s top doubles team in the regular season and won the county championship. They also won a 2A regional championship before falling in the state quarterfinals.
Nikhil Andhavarapu and Arjun Mistry, Liberty
The junior team finished second in the county boys doubles tournament before going on a sensational postseason run where they became Class 1A boys doubles state champions.