The Sporting Life: Top-ranked Nighthawk - Tucson Local Media: Import

The Sporting Life: Top-ranked Nighthawk

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Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:52 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

May 24, 2006 - When word reached Don Dickinson that John Nanosky had transferred to Ironwood Ridge High School, the boys tennis coach was justifiably ecstatic.

"When I heard he was coming I go, holy smokes, that's certainly my good fortune," said Dickinson, who has known Nanosky since the Ironwood Ridge junior was seven years old and traveling to Dickinson's Copper Bowl tennis tournament from his home in El Paso. "Gosh it was a surprise to me, I had no idea he was even in Tucson."

On April 29 at Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale, Nanosky completed a perfect season, 18-0, with a three-set win over Drake Kakar of Chaparral High School in the Class 4A Division I state tennis tournament.

"It felt unbelievable to win it," said Nanosky "At first, you're like, you just won a match but then you realize you won state and it's amazing."

That winning feeling is becoming a regular emotion for the Ironwood Ridge junior. Nanosky enters the summer ranked No. 1 in the Southwest Region and No. 62 overall in the country by the United States Tennis Association among 18-year-old boys.

After spending the first semester at Salpointe Catholic in the fall, Nanosky transferred to Ironwood Ridge and the chance to play as the team's No. 1 singles player. At Salpointe he was competing against Tommy McGeorge and Cameron Ahari - good friends of his from his early days on the USTA circuit - for a top spot on the Lancers.

"I have no regrets, it would have been a great team," said Nanosky of Salpointe, which won the Class 5A team title.

Uncomfortable at Salpointe, Nanosky transferred to Ironwood Ridge and led the Nighthawks' team to the quarterfinals of state before bowing out to eventual champs Catalina Foothills.

Tennis reaches far beyond high school for Nanosky. Playing since the age of three, the boy with the blistering serve - clocked last year at 127-mph - Nanosky has cracked the top 20 nationally, doing so at the age of 14. That same year he knocked off Kellen Damico who was then ranked No. 5 in the nation among 14-year-olds.

Since then he's claimed several major USTA zonal tournament's, including two National Opens, but the big one, a Super National, continues to elude him. That opportunity will come this summer when he hits the USTA circuit. He'll play seven tournaments this summer from Washington D.C. to Kalamazoo, Mich. and after July 1 wont' return home until school starts.

"I've coached almost 30 nationally-ranked players and four have gone on to the professional ranks and I think he's the best one that I've had," said Dickinson. "He wouldn't necessarily beat some of the players that I had at his particular age but the type of game that he has, his mechanics are very clean it's really set up for a professional game."

A chance to play in the pros is his dream but Nanosky is already preparing for his future, one that includes the initials M.D. after his name. Lots of schools have inquired about him playing for them after high school including Arizona State, Illinois, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and Virginia.

"You've got to make sure you have a backup plan," he said.

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