No matter how bad Nathan VanDeventer sprained his ankle Thursday in a tennis match at Southport, it isn’t likely to keep him out of the Bull Dogs’ next contest.
North is set to visit crosstown rival Columbus East on Wednesday. Assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks today or Tuesday, the senior is likely to be back in the No. 1 singles spot for the Bull Dogs.
“Every day, it’s getting a little better,” VanDeventer said. “Hopefully (today), I can start hitting balls again and do a little bit of light jogging and get ready for Wednesday.”
VanDeventer was leading 3-0 in the first set Thursday when he leaped for a ball and came down on his right ankle wrong. He had the ankle taped and went on to post a 6-2, 6-4 win against Southport’s Colston Streit.
The win was the first of the season for VanDeventer. He had lost a match in the rain-shortened Jeffersonville tournament and in North’s dual-meet opener against Floyd Central.
“The competition at Jeffersonville is always tough,” VanDeventer said. “I should have won my match, but playing No. 1 singles, you’re going to see everyone’s best. It was a great learning opportunity for me. But I feel really confident with our team.”
After not playing tennis as a freshman, VanDeventer spent his sophomore season at No. 2 doubles. He moved up to No. 1 doubles last season.
With the graduation of No. 1 and No. 2 singles players Aditya Mantri and Kevin Luo, the No. 1 singles spot was there for the taking this season.
“Last year, I wanted to play singles, but Aditya and Kevin were just better players,” VanDeventer said. “I played a lot over the summer and worked on my game, and I knew the No. 1 singles spot was up for grabs, and I told coach I wanted to earn that spot. When I wasn’t playing baseball, I was playing tennis 5-6 hours a day, and it’s paying off for me right now.”
The fact that VanDeventer is playing No. 1 singles for the 18th-ranked team in the state is a testament to his athletic ability, considering tennis is his No. 3 sport. Last year, he was the point guard and second-leading scorer on the Bull Dogs’ basketball team.
Baseball may be VanDeventer’s best sport, though. He enjoyed a solid sophomore season before having his junior year cut short by an elbow injury.
VanDeventer returned to the diamond this summer to play for the Indiana Outlaws. He has consistently thrown in the 84 to 87 mph range and hit 88 once on the radar gun.
“I love all three sports,” VanDeventer said. “It’s hard to choose one. I think playing two sports in college would be kind of cool, but at this time, baseball is my No. 1 sport.”
VanDeventer has a baseball scholarship offer from Taylor, and he plans to visit Indiana Wesleyan on Tuesday. He also has been in talks with Illinois State, Cedarville, Grace and Southern Indiana. Grace wants him to play two sports.
This summer, VanDeventer had days where he would play tennis from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., then practice basketball with his North teammates from 3 to 5 p.m. and then go to baseball practice or play a baseball game or two.
“The days got pretty busy, but I love all three sports,” VanDeventer said. “It’s a blessing. I really enjoyed my summer.”
North coach Kendal Hammel recognizes VanDeventer’s athletic ability.
“When we do our miles, he’s the first one coming in all the time,” Hammel said. “He’s a great athlete and a good leader. He’s improved from last year to this year.”
Last year, VanDeventer went 10-14 with three different partners at No. 1 doubles.
Hammel said VanDeventer has made a smooth transition from doubles to singles.
“I know he wanted to compete for the (No. 1) spot, but once we got into the challenge matches, he dominated pretty well,” Hammel said. “He knew going in there’s a lot of pressure and demand on that spot. He hadn’t played a lot of singles, but he competed well against Floyd Central, and he competed against a good Jeffersonville player the first match of the year.”
The Bull Dogs went 13-8 as a team last year. They won a sectional title before falling to Bloomington North in the regional.
Columbus North hopes to avenge that loss this season.
“I think we have a really good chance of making it to semistate, then depending on the draw at semistate, we have a chance at going to state,” VanDeventer said. “Bloomington North has a really good team, and they got us last year, so we hope to get them this year.”
Individually, VanDeventer hopes to be the best leader he can be.
“I want to help the younger guys on the team enjoy the game and always just play my hardest, always have fun and showing positive energy for everyone else,” VanDeventer said.
Name: Nathan VanDeventer
School: Columbus North
Sports: Tennis, basketball, baseball
Favorite sport: “If I had to choose one, I’d say baseball, but I love all three of the sports.”
Favorite athlete: J.T. Barrett (Ohio State quarterback)
Other activities: Co-president of Student Athletic Board, Student Assembly, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth Leadership Bartholomew County