Tennis: Honor just latest to come for Hernandez
Two-time state qualifier and 2011 All-Greater Houston selection Daniel Hernandez didn't even play tennis for Pearland as a sophomore.
"I had played so much tennis, and I was still playing some outside of high school, and I just really wanted to compete in a team sport, so I went out for soccer," he said. "It had its pros and cons, but it was a great experience, and in a way, it rekindled my passion to compete in high school tennis."
Did it ever.
Hernandez, who won a District 24-5A boys singles title as a freshman in 2008, came back to capture two more as a junior (22-5A in 2010) and senior (another 24-5A in 2011), and earn back-to-back University Interscholastic league State Tournament berths.
He fell in the Class 5A state semifinals this spring and in the quarterfinals in 2010.
"Reaching state are major memories, and even though I didn't win a state title and reach the ultimate goal, I'm still proud of two pretty good seasons in a row," Hernandez said, "and it was great to get Pearland some recognition in a strong district, and at the region and state events."
Pearland coach Benjamin Stiles remembers when the highly-touted Hernandez enrolled at Pearland as an incoming freshman.
"I heard he had moved into our school district, and when he showed up, he wasn't that big or anything, and I wondered, 'Is this the guy they're all talking about?" said Stiles, a Pearland assistant at the time. "But then he got out on the court, and his power was amazing, and he started beating everyone in the district.
"Of course, he's grown and become even stronger since then, and beyond his talent and skill levels, and his pure love and passion for the game, it's his creativity that I'm really going to miss. He has great hands for drops and other shots, and the power to go along with it, and there are few players who are more interesting to watch."
Hernandez comes from a tennis family that was established in Ecuador and includes Daniel's father and longtime teacher-coach Carlos (www.papacarlostennisacademy.com), and twin sister Maria, a region qualifier in girls doubles for Pearland.
"My dad is such a big part of my life and what I've been able to accomplish in tennis," Hernandez said. "He's so positive and never pushes me, and while he can be very serious when I'm on the court and he's coaching, tennis is over when we get home.
"I got him an iPad for Father's Day and I was so glad to do it after everything he's done for me, our family and so many players."
Hernandez continues to narrow his college choices with a freshman year quickly approaching, and Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. and Auburn are among his favorites.
"A lot of hard work since the age of six has really paid off lately, but I know I have to continue to improve in all phases," he said. "My backhand is the strongest part of my game, and for most players, it's the weakest, and I feel like I have a forehand that can really back it up.
"My serve is probably what needs the biggest boost, and I'm working on it."
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