Streator High School senior-to-be Davey Rashid reached the goals he had set for this past spring season.
Now he wants more.
“To be honest, (losing the 2020 season) was pretty rough on me. Not only did the tennis season get canceled, but they had to close the courts as well, being on school grounds. ... As soon as things opened up, actually the day of the courts being reopened, I was on the court working out.”
— The Times 2021 Boys Tennis Player of the Year Davey Rashid
Rashid, who holds down the Bulldogs’ No. 1 singles spot, finished the regular season undefeated and was runner-up at sectionals to advance to the IHSA Class 1A State Tournament. He said it was during his three matches, an opening victory and a pair of losses, at state that he started setting his next set of goals for his senior season and what he would need to do to reach them.
“The main thing I took away from my final two matches at state was how consistent my opponents were, especially in their serving and moving the ball side to side,” said Rashid. “There wasn’t a huge difference in the speed of their first and second serves, which was impressive, and they rarely missed. There was no let-up, it was 100 mph on the first serve and maybe a little off that on the second.
“If you were going to beat them, you were going to need to break their service at some point. They weren’t just going to give it to you, you were going to have to earn it. Their overall games were built on being consistent, and that’s what I’m going to work on the most in the offseason.
“My main goal coming into the season was to be a state qualifier but to also be undefeated going into the postseason. I was able to accomplish both of those goals.
“I have two big goals again for my senior season, the first being winning the sectional championship. I placed second this year and would love to be the first player in school history to win a sectional. The second goal is to make it to the second day of the state tournament, which would mean winning two of three matches as a seeded player. I feel both of those goals are very doable for me, but it’s going to mean I’m going to have to work harder than I ever have in the past.”
Rashid — The Times 2021 Boys Tennis Player of the Year — finished the regular season 13-0 and ended the campaign 17-3. He also participated in golf, basketball, soccer and football during the school year.
“He’s a kid that thrives on playing really good competition, and he’s always working to get better,” said Streator coach John Sandoval. “This year with us trying to stay closer to home with the pandemic still happening, we weren’t able to participate in a few tournaments we would normally, and those are some events where there are some pretty good players he would have faced.
“I thought he played very well in the sectional and at state despite dropping a few matches. He hit the ball harder and better than he had in the regular season, and I think a lot of that had to do with the good players he was playing against. I feel he saw what it will take to be competitive and win matches once at the state tournament, and we’ve talked about working on those parts of his game in the offseason. To be honest, those players that compete for state medals don’t make unforced errors, they make you beat them.
“He is just an all-around solid athlete and has the talent to reach his goals, without a doubt. It’s just a matter of him putting in the work, and I know he will.”
With his sophomore season lost to COVID-19, Rashid said it was mentally hard to deal with, but he was ready to go when limitations were lifted and he knew there would be a season.
“To be honest, it was pretty rough on me,” said Rashid, who also had to see his older brother, Greg, miss his senior season and a chance to be the first Streator player to reach the state tournament three times. “Not only did the tennis season get canceled, but they had to close the courts as well, being on school grounds. ... As soon as things opened up, actually the day of the courts being reopened, I was on the court working out.
“After losing my sophomore season, I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to this past spring.”
Rashid won his opening trio of matches at sectionals, including a grueling three-set win over Metamora’s Alexander Schroff, but then dropped the title match to Schroff’s teammate, Bryton Short.
“That was my first full three-set match in a long time,” said Rashid. “I was having fun and playing really well, my opponent was playing well, and I was able to come out on top. Then in the finals, I felt I played pretty well again, and no excuses, but I just didn’t have fresh legs after an almost three-hour semifinal. I just fell short, and (Short) played well.
“I had few too many unforced errors in the opening match at state, but I cut them way down in the next two. Even though they were losses, I felt I played the best I’ve ever played in those matches.
“I know what I need to do to reach my goals next year, and I’m going to do all that I can to make that happen.”