As good as his serve or return game is, Jeffrey Dayton admits keeping himself motivated may be his best trait.
The St. James sophomore for the most part cruised through another regular season. All told, he has won 30 straight Region VII-AAA matches, a span that stretches back to March 13, 2012.
“When you’re winning, it’s easy to let up,” said Dayton, the two-time Toast of the Coast Boys Tennis Player of the Year. “You have to play the same way and keep up the intensity level.”
That may be easier said that done.
Outside of the ultra-competitive Class AAAA/AAA singles tournament – where Dayton has still won at least two matches in three of the last four seasons – he has made relatively quick work of most of his high school opponents.
This season alone, he won approximately half of his matches 6-0, 6-0. Out of the 154 total games he charted, he won 144 of them.
He was a lock for the Region VII-AAA Player of the Year honors again. And he earned a spot on the Class AAA All-State squad for the second consecutive season.
Dayton played more than six outside tournaments on weekends over the course of the high school season. But outside of missing two of the Sharks’ matches due to an injury, he keeps coming back.
That’s not always the norm for players of Dayton’s ability, in tennis or other sports.
“I’ve lost players due to club teams,” St. James coach Lee Cannon said. “I know it can happen at any moment. … I know it’s a special moment of time you’ll have him. I just know how much he enjoys it. He’s doing the same thing I am: He’s enjoying it.”
The winning has certainly helped him and his team.
The Sharks took advantage of an expanded playoff field by qualifying for the Class AAA team postseason for the first time in school history before losing 5-1 to Hilton Head.
That one win belonged to Dayton.
Despite the high number of wins, Cannon said his star player has plenty to prove. Further success in the individual tournament is ultimately the goal.
“He is not finished,” Cannon said. “As big of a success as you can be regionally, when you go to a state tournament, it’s another level. There’s room to improve.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.