Jonathan Ho was tired of playing second fiddle. He wanted to be the best.
On Saturday, the Camas High School sophomore defeated Tanner Blake 6-4, 6-4 for the 4A district singles championship at the Vancouver Tennis Center.
“It feels good to finally beat somebody from Union,” Ho said. “That’s what every Papermaker wants.”
Blake had Ho on the ropes with a 4-3 advantage in the second set, but the Papermaker got right back into the fight and quickly turned the tables. Ho sent Blake into a tailspin by winning the next two games to gain a 5-4 lead. As Ho stepped back to serve during that final sequence, the look in his eyes said he was not going to give this game away.
“That last game, I felt like I was invincible. No matter where I put the ball, it was going to go in,” he said. “I took my time and did the small things, like putting on the extra top spin and always focusing on the next shot. I didn’t worry about anything else going on. I was just zoning into the point.”
Taiga Suzuki finished in fourth place for the Papermakers in the singles bracket. Matt Brumfield and Jeffery Lee earned fourth place in doubles.
Head coach Jonathan Burton was on the edge of his seat watching Ho become champion. He will never forget the moment when Ho let loose on that game-winning shot. The ball blazed across the court, well out of Blake’s reach.
“He was down, and then the cards changed. That last shot punctuated the victory,” Burton said. “He’s a hard worker, and that paid off today. He started slowly in most of his matches. Once he settles in, then he’s a mechanic.”
Ho beat Hung Truong of Skyview 6-1, 6-0 in the first round; JJ Jung of Camas 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals; and John Ebert of Heritage 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals.
“I’ve been working really hard since going to state last year, but getting to this point is unbelievable,” Ho said. “It’s just been a really fun year so far, playing first singles and representing Camas.”
Ho became the best Saturday. Next weekend, he wants to be even better. The top six placers at the 4A bi-district tournament in Tumwater advance to state in the spring.
“I want to try and win bi-districts and get great seeding going into state,” Ho said. “That means I’m going to have to hit a lot of balls. I’ll probably be playing every day this week.”