By: Tim Chambes
Tomahawk Sports Editor
One up-and-coming sophomaore could be a tough pill to swallow for some of Johnson County’s future tennis opponents. He’s also what the doctor ordered and he played a key role in their success this season.
Dalton Sluder was a valuable member of the varsity tennis team as a freshman during the 2017 season. The up and coming sophomore held his own, winning his first game in the district in addition to finishing the year with an even record in 12 regular season matches.
Sluder had never played in a meaningful match until earning a spot to play for the Horns. He touched on the opportunity that head coach Eric Crabtree afforded him.
“The only people that I had played against before high school were mom and my sister Callie,” said Sluder. “I had never really been in a set up game so wasn’t sure how things would go. Coach Crabtree was talking about using me at doubles, but I’m glad he decided to play me in singles. I felt more comfortable with every match that I played.”
Sluder found high school tennis to his liking as the season went on. His win in the District left him with a record of 7-6.
“It means more than just playing around for fun,” said Sluder. “It felt good playing for my school and playing in matches that meant something. I got to play against a lot of good players.”
One of those came after his win in the District.
“We were playing back and forth and then the game was even. I won the tiebreaker in a close match. I think that was the best thing ever. I had accomplished my goal of winning a first round game.”
Sluder wasn’t as fortunate in the second round. He got knocked off by the top player in singles.
“He was really good in every phase of his game. I played okay but he was so much better. I hope to be at that level by my junior or senior season. I’ve got to improve my game over the summer.”
Sluder was working on that with two of his biggest supporters on Saturday. They included his mother, Dr. Raina Sluder, and sister, Kalli.
“I beat Mom for the first time ever and it felt good,” laughed Dalton. “But I haven’t been able to beat Kalli at all.”
He praised his mom for helping him with his game.
“I appreciate all my coaches and what they did,” said Sluder. “My mom deserves so much of the credit because she got me to playing in the sixth grade. She’s the one that taught me most of things I knew coming in.”
Coach Craig Cox, who helped out with tennis, said Dr. Sluder was a big asset to the program.
To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.