Star of the Future: Sixth Grader Ryan Excels for St. Mary’s Varsity Tennis Team

June 18, 2013
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Sixth grader Brady Ryan of the St. Mary’s High School varsity tennis team prepares for his serve during a match.

Sixth grader Brady Ryan of the St. Mary’s High School varsity tennis team prepares for his serve during a match.

Brady Ryan has plenty of game.

He’s so proficient at the sport of tennis that he earned a position in the starting singles rotation of the St. Mary’s High School boys varsity tennis team.

And by the way Brady’s only 12 years old and in the sixth grade, one of the few Lynners ever to play varsity at that point in their career. Super goaltender Katie Burt, who is now at BB&N, comes to mind as another child star.

Brady, whose father, Tom Ryan, is a member of the famous Ryan sports family of Salem, and whose mother, Laurie Wentzell-Ryan, was a three-sport Winthrop High All-Star, just didn’t suit up for the Spartans’ varsity. Playing at No. 2 singles, he won 14 of his 17 matches for the tournament-qualifying Spartans and merited a spot on the Catholic Central League All-Star Team.

Brady began tennis lessons when he was 10 years old and has been improving his skills ever since. He’s right-handed but he can hit winners from his forehand or two-handed-backhand. The ambidextrous athlete hits a baseball and a golf ball from the left side.

“I play soccer, too, but tennis is my favorite,” said Brady.

He’s ranked 42nd in New England and 22nd in Massachusetts in the 12-and-under age group. He has won his last five tournaments and has a United States Tennis Association (USTA) record of 68-33.

Brady has a well-rounded game in which he can play a back-boarding style or produce winning shots that elude opponents’ racquets.

“I’m pretty good at keeping the ball in play and I can hit accurate shots and a lot of winners but I don’t hit the ball very hard,” said Brady, who checks in at 4-feet, 8 inches tall and 80 pounds.

Brady said the comment he heard often from his varsity opponents, some of whom were five and six years older than he, was, “You’re good for your age.”

Brady says his favorite professional players are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Laurie Wentzell-Ryan, a Lynn teacher and the volleyball coach at Lynn English High school, has kept busy guiding her son’s rising career, making decisions such as having Brady compete for the Bass River Club traveling team where he was undefeated in league singles play. He will also be playing for the club’s summer league team.

“He definitely has my competitiveness,” said Wentzell-Ryan, a former seven-time Northeastern Conference All-Star in soccer, basketball, and soccer. “But I don’t want him to be hard on himself like I was as an athlete. But he expects a lot from himself which is good.”

Wentzell-Ryan said the other players on the St. Mary’s team have been very cordial and respectful to her son who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

“It’s part of who is – he’s quiet and shy and very serious,” said Wentzell-Ryan. “Tennis has been great for him as far as helping him to get to know the other kids and socializing with them.”

For Brady Ryan, the future is bright on and off the tennis court.

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