From tennis toddler to top player

Posted: March 21, 2013

A lot of kids grow up falling for sports such as baseball, football, or soccer.

But having played in the backyard with his father, Steve, since he was three years old, Ryan Dickerson learned to appreciate a different sport: tennis.

The early start seems to have helped Dickerson. As a freshman last season, he led Moorestown with a 33-4 record in No. 1 singles and proved to be one of the best players in South Jersey.

"I knew there were a lot of good players in North Jersey, but I really didn't know the competition that was out there and how I matched up," Dickerson said of last season. "Luckily, I played really well last season and I was really happy to have the season I did."

Dickerson's success on the tennis court goes beyond the high school level. He is ranked 157th in the country by the U.S. Tennis Association among boys 16 and younger. On Feb. 23, he reached the 1/8 finals in United States Tennis Association National Open in Augusta, Ga.

"He loves to play tennis," said Bill Kingston, who enters his 40th season as Moorestown coach. "He's got great footwork. Fundamentals are very sound. That, plus his attitude is so good."

Dickerson's father also has contributed to his success. Steve Dickerson has been an assistant tennis coach at Moorestown for eight years, and he played at the high school and college level.

"Early on, I just made sure he was having fun. And then as he grew a little bit older, I started to focus on technique and tactics, and then put him in tournaments," Steve Dickerson said.

"I'm kind of on the side now, just overseeing and keeping him on a straight path."

The biggest strength to Ryan Dickerson's game might be his experience. Since he has played the game for so long, Dickerson has what he calls a "high tennis IQ."

"I know how to break down my opponents all the time and what the percentage shot is on every shot, so I feel like I never take bad-shot selections," Dickerson said.

That high tennis IQ also helps Kingston, as Dickerson can show his teammates some pointers.

"He's so knowledgeable that he can help them," Kingston said. "He can do things better than I can, in some of those regards. He understands the game."

Dickerson doesn't mind helping out. The sophomore just wants to see his team succeed.

"I want to contribute as much as I can to my team, be a real good leader, and help push my teammates," Dickerson said. "Cheer for them like crazy. Do my best in my matches, but basically, I just want to do my best for my team."

Contact Christian Hetrick at Follow on Twitter @_Hetrick.

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