While growing up watching his three older sisters play tennis for Columbus North, Anthony Sanders imagined himself one day playing for the Bull Dogs.
But not only has Sanders been a solid varsity player for North, the senior is playing No. 1 singles for the second time in his high school career. He’ll be there again Wednesday when the 24th-ranked Bull Dogs visit Columbus East.
“There’s definitely more pressure on me because last year, I played No. 1 doubles,” Sanders said. “It’s all on me in my match. But my sophomore year, I had played No. 1 singles, also, so I think I’m kind of used to it.”
Sanders is the fourth of five kids in his family to play tennis for coach Kendal Hammel. Older sisters Katelyn, Caroline and Melissa, who now plays at Franklin College, played for the girls team, and younger sister Madelyn will be a freshman on the North girls squad in the spring.
“The whole Sanders family have been phenomenal as far as being participants and being part of the team,” Hammel said.
“My parents (Tony and Christine) always signed me up to play or to be in clinics,” Sanders said. “Then over the years, I kind of decided I would like to do this in high school, ‘I think I can be good at this.’ But at first, it was just routine.”
Anthony’s career has been anything but routine. He played No. 2 singles as a freshman and part of his sophomore year before moving up to the No. 1 spot when Luke Red moved to No. 1 doubles. Then last season, Red moved back to No. 1 singles, and Sanders teamed with Jake Likens at No. 1 doubles.
With Red having graduated, Sanders is back at No. 1 singles this year.
“I think I’ve definitely improved from sophomore year to this year,” Sanders said.
Going into today’s match with East standout Seth Meyer, Sanders is 4-2.
“He’s playing really well for us at No. 1,” Hammel said. “I wasn’t sure who was going to be playing No. 1 and if it’s going to change or stay the same through the season as it goes, but he’s been doing what we need for him to do, and he’s been proving himself in the matches that he’s played and has had some nice wins and is competing really well. Hopefully, that will help him get stronger and better as the season progresses.
“Statewide, he’s not one of the top No. 1 players by any means, but he’s a good player,” he said. “We talked about that as a team — we have some good players, but no one is going to step out and win every time at
No. 1 singles.”
Sanders wants to major in engineering and is looking at Purdue and Rose-Hulman.
“If I go to Purdue, I probably won’t play, but Rose-Hulman is also an option, and I will play if I go there,” Sanders said.
But first, Sanders is hoping to lead the Bull Dogs to a repeat of last season when it went undefeated in the regular season and won sectional and regional titles.
“I would at least like to get second-team All-State, and for our team, I would like us to win regional again,” Sanders said.