Junior Sam Plys serves up competition this season


DGS Tennis Twitter

Sam Plys plays during State tournament ultimately placing 25th place.

Marty Blader, Sports Editor

As the snow on the courts begins to melt, junior Sam Plys is ready to defrost his tennis skills in hopes of returning to State for the second time.

Plys is the only current member on the tennis team that has had previous experience playing at the State tournament. Last year, Plys placed 25th at State, and he reflected on his experience playing in that tournament.

“At first I was a little bit nervous, but it was a really cool experience being able to play some of the best players in the state… It was a good experience; it was competitive, but nice,” Plys said.

Math teacher and head boys and girls tennis coach Josh Forst explained Plys’ strengths as a player and a teammate.

“As a tennis player, his biggest growth has been developing weapons in the form of a big serve, a strong forehand that he can hit winners with and the ability to finish points at the net,” Forst said. “He also has grown as a leader and teammate especially this year where he is always supportive and encouraging to his teammates which I would argue is his best improvement he has made over the past three years.”

Plys attends classes at DGS for the first two periods every day and completes the rest of his academic studies through Seton Home Study. He reflected on how being partially homeschooled has positively impacted him as an athlete.

“I feel like when I am homeschooled it’s a lot of time of me by myself so I am able to think about the matches a little bit like I can almost zone out. Obviously being homeschooled helped me focus on school more, but being by myself helps me zone into my next matches.

— Sam Plys

While he is able to focus on the mental game of tennis by being homeschooled, Plys’ mother Holly Plys acknowledged the lack of impact homeschooling has on Plys as an athlete.

“Homeschool has nothing to do with Sam’s success as an athlete. Instead, Sam puts a lot of time into tennis training because it is an enjoyable break for Sam from his studies,” Holly Plys said.

Holly Plys explained his schedule as a student, athlete and coach.

“This past summer, Sam had to be on the tennis courts in Western Springs by 6:30 a.m., and then he came home at 10 a.m., ate breakfast and was back at the courts by 12:30 p.m. till 3 p.m. for match play, followed by a 4 p.m. start for coaching the younger tennis students. His training went through the whole summer, until the day before school started at DGS. So, you can see that Sam sacrificed and continues to sacrifice to have success in tennis,” Holly Plys said.

Senior Chase Tomecki has been on the same team as Plys since Tomecki’s sophomore year, and he described Plys’s strengths as a teammate as well as a leader on the team.

“He focuses on every shot and he always tries to be a better player; he brings all of us up too,” Tomecki said. “Just trying to bring the team together and really focusing on the team. Even though he is a really great player, he’s still one of the guys, one of the teammates.”

Plys elaborated on the impact that Covid-19 has had on his experience on the DGS tennis team throughout his time on the team.

“Freshmen year we didn’t really have much team bonding because that was the year after Covid, and so sophomore year, when we went to Edwardsville, is when I feel like we really got together,” Plys said. “I feel like [the team] motivates me a lot more to work harder and be the best I can be when I’m closer with my teammates.”