LYNN — He first picked up a tennis racquet when he was around eight years old, but didn’t take up the game in earnest until two years later.
Now he’s 16, and Brady Ryan is the closest thing to a smooth-running machine as there is at the moment in Lynn high school sports.
Friday at English High, Ryan won hits 100th match since he began his career as a seventh-grader at St. Mary’s. He also completed his third straight undefeated Catholic Central League season after his 6-0, 6-1 decision over Lowell Catholic’s Guillame Salinger.
The Crusaders came away with the win for the day, 4-1, but the day — and the attention — belonged to Ryan, who has been one of the most under-the-radar phenoms in recent Lynn sports memory.
Friday, Ryan and Salinger began the match with an extended opening game that went to deuce three times before Ryan finally broke through the take the introductory game.
From there, it was a breeze for Ryan, who used a dazzling display of groundstrokes, backhands and overhands to keep Salinger off-balance.
“He has tremendous focus on the next point,” said St. Mary’s coach Dave Manalaysay. “Not the next game … or the next match … the next point and only the next point.
“Tennis is a game where you have to be really mentally focused,” said Manalaysay. “I’ve been playing this game for 40 years, and I’ve never seen anyone as zeroed in on the next point as he is. If he loses a point, he just puts it behind him and goes onto the next.”
“I find I do better when I just look ahead, as opposed to when I dwell on it,” said Ryan. “When I’m able to do it, I can see the difference as opposed to when I don’t.”
His coach feels that the key to Ryan’s success is his ability to get his opponent to play to his strengths.
“He makes sure his opponent is on the move at all times,” said Manalaysay. “He really knows how to manage a match. By that I mean that if you watch the pros, they can manage their opponents so that they have them playing their match.”
Ryan had faced Salinger earlier this spring and beat him by the same score.
“The first game in that match lasted about 20 minutes, and as soon as Brady won it, you could see the other boy’s shoulders just sag,” Manalaysay said. “Nothing disrupts him.”
However, after Ryan won the first game of the second set, Salinger finally got one back. However, all that seemed to do was make Ryan work even harder, and he took the next five games with ease to earn his milestone win.
Ryan, a junior, has now gone 100-7 in his high school career, and got as far as the quarterfinals in last week’s state individual tournament. He’s already looking at colleges, and would prefer to stay somewhat close to home and opt for a school with a good science program.
But Manalaysay feels that with a little bulking up, the sky’s the limit for Ryan.
“I think he could even play Division 1,” he said.