In the process, Ross forged a friendship that has made him a better player.
“Inevitably you end up talking and becoming friends when you’re with the same clubs,” Ross said. “I truly got to know him when we started hitting together at Score (Tennis and Fitness in Countryside). Our friendship kind of sprung up from there.”
While the two have faced each other numerous times through the years, they competed in different divisions at the United States Tennis Association’s Midwest Section Closed Junior Championships June 27 in Indianapolis.
Joyce placed second in the 18-under singles division, while Ross took fourth in 16-under singles. Ross also teamed with John McNally of Cincinnati to win the 16-under doubles championship.
“I’m good friends with him,” Ross said. “We’ve had a lot of tough battles throughout the years. He beat me 7-6 in the third set last year and we’ve had close matches. I can’t think of a time when we haven’t had a really good grind with each other. I always try to outdo him, but it’s tough because he’s such a good player. I love to compete against him.”
Ross has been competing in the Midwest Closed since he was 11.
“It’s a really fun tournament,” Ross said. “There are a lot of great players and it’s a good way to test myself and improve. There’s a lot of history and talent and it’s always a great experience.”
Ross competed on the Lyons tennis team as a freshman, but now is taking online courses so he can stay on top of his studies while he travels to tournaments.
“I’m trying to improve my tennis and do other things in life,” Ross said. “My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with my friends at school as well, but it’s going well. It was a good decision. It gives me so much more freedom.”
As a freshman, Joyce won the state singles championship to help Hinsdale Central cruise to the team title this spring. Ross, who went 4-2 at the state meet last year, anticipates his friend winning the title next season, as well.
“I hope to go back to LT my senior year and possibly win state for once, instead of Martin winning it,” Ross said.