Sophomore Bass leads boys tennis


Duncan Tanner

Sophomore Ethan Bass practices with head tennis coach Val Taylor on March 30. Bass also practices outside of school with the Universal Tennis Academy and competes nationally through the United States Tennis Association.

Duncan Tanner

Ethan Bass was introduced to tennis as a third-grader at Morningside Elementary School by current Grady tennis head coach Val Taylor. As a sophomore, he’s led the Knights to the GHSA State Tournament Quarterfinals against Starr’s Mill on April 27.

“She [Taylor] was the one who wanted me to start playing tennis,” Bass said. “So, I had a lesson with her, and then it just went from there.”

Taylor recognized Bass’s talent from the moment he stepped on the court and knew he would become an exceptional tennis player.

“I’ve known Ethan since he was a very young boy when he came in and took tennis lessons from me,” Taylor said. “I knew he was special. You don’t get many kids like Ethan in your life as a tennis coach, and then I realized, with his skill and my expertise, he needed to go elsewhere [to play].”

Bass transferred to Lovett for middle school, but returned to Grady last year and has since played a vital role in the team’s success, according to Taylor. 

“He’s number one on the team without a doubt,” Taylor said. “He only plays singles, putting him at doubles would be a waste of a point.”

 At 5 feet 8 inches and 130 pounds, Bass relies heavily on his tennis IQ and decision-making on the court.

“He’s brilliant on the court,” Taylor said.  “He’s kind of small in stature, but he is absolutely a genius on the court. He can hit the ball with all types of spin. Any spin you want. He knows where to put the ball, when to hit it hard, when to hit it soft, spin this, spin that — he just has a gift.”

Bass recognizes the importance of a strong mental game, so he makes an effort to have the mental aspect at the center of his focus.

“In my age group right now and in 18U, strokes literally don’t matter,” Bass said. “At that point, it’s all about being mentally tough and not giving up and being smart. I would say at least 90 percent of tennis is mental now.”

Besides his talent on the court, Bass plays an important role as a team member, senior captain Henry Edmeades said.

“He’s a good teammate,” Edmeades said.  “When he’s not in the lineup, he still comes to watch our games and support players. He’s been practicing a lot and has become a stronger player this year, and he’s an important part like everyone else on the team.”

Outside of Grady, Bass competes nationally by playing club tennis for the Universal Tennis Academy (UTA).

“I practice outside of Grady [with UTA], about three to four times a week, and then I have tournaments on the weekends,” Bass said. 

Through these tournaments, players like Bass are ranked nationally against others their age by the United States Tennis Association. As of April 21, Bass was ranked 104 in the nation for doubles and 539 combined.

Taylor said it’s important for Bass to continue to practice outside of Grady and play against tough competition.

“He’s an outlier,” Taylor said. “He needs to play with [people] his level. He needs to continue to participate in tournaments; he plays tournaments all over the state and the South and the nation. He’s just on a different track — he’s just different.”

The future is bright for Bass. As of now, his goal is to excel in academics and have fun on the court to have an opportunity to play collegiately.

“I would like to play professionally, but that’s a long-time goal,” Bass said. “For now, I want to play at UGA or at another division one school for college. I think it’d be a cool experience to play in college, and it’s a goal for every American tennis player.”

Taylor suggests that Bass still has room to grow in one part of his game.

“He could work on patience, and that will come with time. As you get older, you develop more patience,” Taylor said. “Other than that, I think if he gets a little taller, if he fills out more as he becomes a junior and senior, he will get even stronger than he is now. But I think in his head, he’s got to be patient with his opponent.”

In the meantime, Bass will continue to play a vital role on the Knights tennis team as he improves as a leader and teammate.

“I see him taking more of a leadership role, and it’s because we’re gonna lose about four seniors who are vital, but we’re going to gain about nine freshmen,” Taylor said. “He will have a very big role in molding the freshmen that are coming in from Howard [Middle] School.”