|Beech's Daniels is not your average Joe|
|Thursday, April 12, 2012|
It was a win-win decision for Joseph Daniels to add track to his to-do list for this spring.
The Beech junior has been the school’s No. 1 tennis player for three years now, but joining the track team this season was going to produce a number of benefits for everyone involved.
Let’s look at it in relay terms.
First, Daniels likes to run. Second, he is fast. Third, running for the track team has in turn benefited his tennis game this season. Fourth, as a good runner and top tennis player, he is helping Beech rack up wins in two sports.
Fourth leg always gets the glory.
And tennis coach Rachel Lovingood thinks that’s not a bad thing that an athlete like Daniels is putting on the uniform for two Beech sports.
“I think you play better when you get a little school spirit about you,” she said. “When you really care about your team that’s something that’s only going to be intensified by being on another school team. You get to where it is like, ‘Go Bucs.’ And it makes a difference if you have some pride in your school, and have some kind of want to.”
Daniels certainly has the want to. If it’s not tennis, it’s track; if it’s not track, it’s tennis.
He took up the game of tennis 10 years ago.
“My mom took me when I was younger to a little summer camp and I just stuck with it,” he said, adding that he plays in USTA events as well.
And he has had success for Beech since his freshman year.
Daniels qualified for the state tournament in his first season at the school — one of eight to make it to the Class AAA singles tourney. He fell 6-0, 6-3 to Cookeville senior Joseph Proctor, who eventually fell to Ravenwood’s Sean Karl in the finals. Last year, he went as part of a doubles team and saw his season end in the Region 5-AAA finals.
This year, he plans on entering the postseason in singles to see if he can repeat the performance from two years ago. He has been off to a fast start in 2012, winning 11 of his first 12 matches. The only loss came Monday against Hendersonville senior Matthew Heinrich — a Class AAA state singles qualifier last season — 2-6, 2-6.
Fast starts are good this year, especially considering his new venture onto the 400-meter circle.
Daniels said he last ran track when he was 12 years old. Then, he ran the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races. This year, he tries to compete in the 200- and 400-meter events as well as the 800- and 1,600-meter relays.
“I wanted to run,” he said, “I liked it when I was younger and I just decided to do it this year. I thought track would get me in better shape for tennis and that’s why U wanted to do it. I have to manage more stuff and it’s taught me more about that.”
It’s a good thing he has learned how to manage his time competing in both sports, because when he does show up at a track meet he has very little time to take a breath. Three of his four events are the last five events of each track meet.
“I’m exhausted,” he said of the feeling after a meet, which might have meant either a tennis practice or match before he put his track spikes on. “I’m just tired and just pass out really when I get home.”
And he still gets eight hours of sleep a night.
One of the double duty days this season came after winning a match against Portland at Drakes Creek — 6-1, 6-1 — then jumping in a car to go to Brentwood High School and run as a member of the 400-meter relay team that clocked in at 45.89 seconds to finish sixth and qualify for the finals two days later.
The speed on the track has translated back to the courts, Lovingood said.
“If there’s one thing his game needed the most work on it would be the footwork, agility and court speed, and that’s exactly what track helps with,” she said. “It’s not been a detriment to his game at all; it’s probably been a positive.”
Daniels hopes that all the positives on both sides lead to a busy Spring Fling in May.
“I’d be very excited if I could do both and make it in both,” he said. “That’s the goal in both.”
Were he to make it in both, he might need to wear his track uniform under his tennis one, as there is a crossover between the two sports on multiple days in Murfreesboro.
But you get the feeling Daniels would figure out a way to adjust pretty fast.
— Corby A. Yarbrough, Sports Editor
Photos by Corby A. Yarbrough l THE STANDARD