Athlete Spotlight: Graham Johnson wants to play solo


Photo by Lifetouch

Junior Graham Johnson debates whether to continue on as a doubles player, or go solo.

By Michael Birdsell, Reviews Editor

So to start this interview, what sports and clubs are you involved in at WEGO?

I play tennis during the season. Right now, it’s the off-season ’cause it’s a spring sport, but I’m also in the Math Team and the Robotics Team.

So what inspired you to join tennis?

Well, my mom – or my grandpa – always played tennis and he really wanted me to do it when I was little. I did it for a little bit (chuckles as Jorge Munoz walks up to window) and then I quit when I was younger. But my mom also really likes tennis, so after COVID, I wanted to get involved in something and was like, everybody in my family likes tennis, might as well do tennis.

So, how long have you been playing tennis?

I played for maybe a year or two when I was like eight to ten-ish. So, I mean, I was super little. But, I got back into it the summer between freshman and sophomore year. Then I started playing with my mom, and doing lessons at Hanover Park, and that got me back into it. So like a year, a bit more than a year.

Why do you think there were not that many people on the team last year?

People don’t realize how fun tennis is. I feel like our school’s definitely more focused on soccer, baseball, volleyball, and football. And tennis is kind of slept on, like it’s – I don’t know, one of those sports that’s just like really expensive for no reason. And it’s like your family has to like [tennis] for you to get into it. I don’t know what little kid will be like, ‘Oh I wanna play tennis over soccer,’ but once you get into it, [tennis is] actually really fun and the competitiveness is a great motivation.

Johnson whips the ball over the net during practice. (Photo by Lifetouch)

Do you prefer playing doubles or singles?

I played doubles last season, and I liked it. I was first doubles. I liked it, and I was really good friends with my doubles partner – but I don’t know if I wanna play doubles again, just because the team play and communication it requires can be challenging in more difficult matches. Especially when tensions are high, like a conference, or regional, or sectionals match. It’s easy to get mad at your doubles partner. I’ve also been practicing a lot more singles, so I’m hoping to play singles this season.

Alright, and to end this interview, have you had any lasting memories from this past season?

One distinct memory that I have was from this game we played against Glenbard North. We’re not supposed to play if it’s 40 degrees or below, and it was, like, 32 degrees. I had fallen in school, or before school, and I ripped my sweatpants. So I was playing with ripped sweatpants and a very thin hoodie, in 32-degree weather, and it was a really tough match. We somehow won in the end, and there was this shot, right at the end, where I literally dove and rolled on the ground to hit it. We didn’t get the point, but I still put in the effort for that, and it’s the only time any like doubles or singles group has won against a Glenbard team. So that was a really fun match.