11 Dec 2014, Posted by admin in Packages,Two Bank, No Comments. Tagged Caty McNally, Davis Cup, Ellen Hadley, International Tennis Federation, John McNally, Madison Schmidt, tennis, Western & Southern Open
A local teen, ranked No. 2 in junior tennis, is coming off of a year filled with accomplishments.
Story by Ellen Hadley; photos by Madison Schmidt
John McNally is no regular sophomore at Madeira High School. The 16-year-old misses weeks of classes at a time traveling the country for tennis tournaments, working to hold on to his No. 2 ranking in junior tennis.
At the age of 3, McNally was hitting a balloon back and forth over the couch in his living room. The rest was history.
This summer McNally won two national championships in boys’ 16 singles play. Not only that, but he earned a spot at the U.S. Open in New York City despite being the youngest person in the draw. He lost 7-5, 7-5 to Jan Choinski, 18, of Germany in the first round.
According to his International Tennis Federation (ITF) profile, Choinski is ranked No. 20 in the world in junior tennis (participants are age 18 and under), while McNally is ranked 988 by the ITF.
Playing at the Open meant representing Cincinnati at the tournament.
“I try to represent my city and state as best I can,” said McNally, who has a record of 76-7. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job at it.”
After the U.S Open, McNally was invited to play in the Davis Cup, a tournament, where nations compete for a global title like that of the FIFA World Cup in soccer. Unfortunately, an elbow injury prevented him from doing so.
“I just pinched my ulnar nerve a little bit,” he said. “It was pretty depressing because I really wanted to go to Mexico (site of the tournament). I would’ve played two behind a kid who is top five in the world.”
One of the highlights of McNally’s summer came at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. There, he got to practice with his idol, Roger Federer, the world’s No. 2 player and winner of 17 Grand Slams.
“I warmed up for like two hours before I even hit a ball with him, and he didn’t warm up at all,” McNally said. “I’m sure he just got out of bed and walked on the court, but I was shaking.”
During a recent afternoon at The Club at Harper’s Point tennis courts in Cincinnati, tennis instructor Ryan Hamning and McNally played a set. After an hour of play, McNally looked warmed up, Hamning exhausted.
“Playing against John is hard to explain. You never can get comfortable,” Hamning said. “It’s like a dear-in-the-headlights feeling the whole time.”
McNally opened December with two weeks on the road, playing in two junior ITF tournaments, both in Florida. Joining him was his 13-year-old sister, Caty. She plays up an age group in girls 14 singles and ranks No. 2 in the nation with an 83-12 record. She also played in girls 16s at two tournaments this fall.
She joined her brother at the Eddie Herr ITF tournament from Dec. 1-7, where he lost in the first round.
“The road back from injury has been tough,” John said. “But it’s making me even more hungry.”
Caty made it to the finals of 14 singles, losing in a three-set match to an international player from Russia.
“She’s unbelievable,” John said. “She’s going to France for this thing called Les Petit Tas. Three Americans go for boys and girls, and she’s going to represent the U.S.”
John verbally has committed to play Division 1 tennis at Ohio State University. He is on track to graduate high school a year early.
His mom, Lynn, noted his progress and dedication.
“He’s grown a lot in the last year,” she said. “He’s accomplished more than I or his dad ever thought he could do.”