Plenty of success and fun for JT's Lux
For most, tennis isn't a very popular sport.
But for Sam Lux, the game means more than it does to the average person.
To Lux, it means fun. It also means family. And it most definitely means competition.
During his senior season, it also meant a chance to erase the hex of district disappointments.
Jim Thorpe's No. 1 player the last two years had never made it past the first round of the District 11 individual tennis tournament. As a freshman, he suffered a close defeat. In his sophomore year, he unfortunately drew the top seed. As a junior he earned the No. 1 seed but fell to the eventual champion, who was unranked because he played independently.
A few months ago, Lux finally put an end to the jinx that was District 11 tennis. After cruising past the first round, the Olympian went on to take a third place the best finish ever by a Thorpe player.
A week after his bronze in singles play, he teamed with Zach Ligenza to earn a third place in doubles competition.
Thanks to that performance and the 12-2 record he posted during the regular season, Lux was named the TIMES NEWS Tennis Player of the Year.
"It was a really good season," said Lux, who also won the TN award a year ago. "I won a lot of matches. The only two people I lost to were district champions so there's no crime losing to players like that. "I was still a little disappointed (not being able to win a district title). I would have liked to win one. It's no big deal though. I had a lot of fun during the season. I thought I did a good job."
While Lux enjoys winning, he also keeps things in perspective.
That kind of attitude doesn't go unnoticed.
"He has a good balance on the court," said Jim Thorpe head coach Norb Lienhard. "He wants to win but he also wants to have fun.
"Still, he doesn't like to lose. If he does lose, though, he learns from it. He makes the adjustments he has to so he'll play better the next time."
Lux enjoys learning the game. As he matured during his high school career, the mental aspect became just as important as the physical part.
"He's a smart player," said Lienhard. "He know how to work a point. He knows what he's doing out there."
It's something he credits a former No. 1 Jim Thorpe player for teaching him.
"Where I lacked and where my brother (Brandon) was always strong is thinking how to play tennis instead of just hitting the ball. That's what I have to thank him for because he really helped me with that.
"I wouldn't be nearly as good as I am if it wasn't for him. (Almost) eveything I know about tennis is from him. He's been a big part and has been a great help. Family is important to me. My grandfather taught us how to play ... It's always been something I enjoyed doing with my brother and grandfather."
"His brother always pushed him," said Lienhard. "To this day, I don't know if he can beat Brandon. They're competitive and they always had a good family rivalry and always wanted to beat each other."
His extended family the Jim Thorpe tennis team also became important to Lux. Besides his individual success, he helped lead the Olympians to a 10-5 regular season record.
He also did more for his teammates than post wins.
"All the younger kids look up to him," said Lienhard. "There are many times that instead of hitting by himself he'd go with the younger players and help them."
"The team aspect is very important," said Lux, who finished his career with a 44-8 regular season record. "You're not going to win any team matches with just one person. You need seven players who can play tennis well. We had a whole bunch of good players this season.
"I don't think they necessarily looked up to me but I tried to offer as much advice as I could. I don't think I was a leader, I just tried to help out as much as I could. They would go to coach if they had a problem. If the coach was busy they came to me and I tried to help them out with their game. I enjoyed that. It's always fun when you can help someone else out."
Lux is unsure if he will continue playing at the collegiate level. Headed to West Chester in the fall, he may try to walk on and feels he could contribute if he makes that decision.
Even if he doesn't, it's a sure bet you'll still find him holding a racket.
"Tennis is something I just really like to do," said Lux. "It's something you can do with just one other person. It's always been fun for me. That's how I hang out. Sometimes it turns competitive. Most of the times it's just having fun."