Will Turner stepped onto the Country Day tennis court four years ago as a self-described skinny kid who said his game was wildly inconsistent. Turner knew he wanted to play college tennis like his father, Joel, who had played collegiately at Virginia Tech, but in order to do so he needed to gain consistency and take in as much about the sport as he possibly could.
So, surrounded by a rich Bucs’ tennis tradition that featured, in part, former North Carolina star and current Tar Heel coach Tripp Phillips, current North Carolina player Andrew Gores and current Middlebury (Vt.) College player Allen Jackson, all being led by coach Calvin Davis – a 24-year coaching veteran who has 15 boys state titles and 28 in all – Turner decided to absorb all of the information that he could.
“I think I just learned from the people around me. That’s what has helped me the most,” Turner said. “I listened a lot to what Coach Davis was saying and to what Allen and Andrew said and I took it all in.
“I listened and I got a lot better throughout the years, so I guess growth was the biggest thing. I used to be really erratic my freshman year, but I got a lot more consistent. Everything has gotten better including my serve, which has gotten a lot better and that’s helped. I think the main thing is just my consistency overall and my point construction is better, too. Knowing where to hit the ball and when is huge for me.”
With his on-court game in fine tune, Turner’s four-year run of dominance was a model in consistency. He blazed through his competition with a perfect 15-0 senior season, helping lead the Bucs to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association’s championship game, and leaves the Bucs’ court with only two career losses, two all-state selections and the most accomplished boys tennis career in school history – one he will continue at Boston College where he’ll fulfill his dream of playing at the next level.
And Turner has one more accomplishment to add to his growingly impressive resume as he’s the 2014 South Charlotte Weekly Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
Taking all of that in takes a minute to digest, but what does it mean to Turner?
“Everything,” he said proudly. “My coach has been there for years and has won over 20 state championships so to be up there in the same (breath) as some of the guys means so much to me, especially with all of the great players who have come through there. Just being a part of it was awesome.”
Turner is excited about playing at the next level and is getting a head start on the competition this summer. He’s working at Quail Hollow Country Club and working out with Davis and Country Day sophomore Kavir Kumar several times a week while competing in college-level Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITAs) tournaments and playing in some money tournaments – although for now he’s not eligible to receive compensation per NCAA rules.
But there may be time for that as he’s a four-star recruit and the state’s No. 6 amateur player according to tennisrecruiting.net. He hopes to eventually play professionally as he continues to hone his skill and improve a tennis game that’s become one of the best in the state.
And as far as Turner goes in his playing career, he said this season, his final as a Buc, will always stick with him.
“To me this season was the most important one,” he said. “Things are different with me being a captain and being a senior – you have to set the tone for other players. I was kind of like that last year, but knowing that this was the last year I was going to be there, it definitely means more.
“This year and really the last four years turned out better than I could have ever thought they would, honestly. I’m proud of all that I accomplished and what we did together here.”