The way Peters Township junior Mitch Kreider figures, less is more.
As in the less time he spends actually on the tennis court during tournament play, the more successful he’s going to be.
“I’m 6-3,” Kreider explained. “I have a bigger serve than most kids, so I like to end the points quicker. A lot of the smaller guys are very consistent and very fast, and they get a lot of balls back.
“The best thing to do is close in and finish the points before they can set them up.”
Kreider will look to use his aggressive approach to claim a second consecutive Section 5-AAA singles title at Trinity Middle School starting today at 1 p.m.
And if all goes well, Kreider will be the first one off, not stuck returning long ground strokes that he’d rather be watching from the other side of the fence.
“It’s tougher to have a long match,” Kreider said. “I look to win a lot quicker than a lot of other guys.”
Doubt Kreider’s theory at your own peril; he comes from a long line of tennis players.
His grandfather, Reuben Kreider, is pushing 80 but still competes in high-level tournaments, often beating players a decade younger.
Growing up, Mitch would hit balls with his dad, John, at Reuben Kreider’s Connecticut home, one that had its own tennis court.
“That’s where I got it from,” Kreider said.
Mitch Kreider and his family moved from Connecticut to Kansas when he was in second grade, then from Kansas to Peters Township four years later. Not long after, Kreider met Indians head coach Brandt Bowman at Peters Township Tennis Center. Bowman has worked with Mitch ever since.
“Mitch lives off his serve; he has a really good serve,” Bowman said. “So usually if he’s serving well, he’s going to play well. He has a big serve and a big forehand. He likes to play very aggressive.
“He’s not one of those guys who stays back and plays real consistent and doesn’t make mistakes. He plays aggressive and goes for it.”
Bowman also has been pleased with how much Kreider has taken to high school tennis, which isn’t always a guarantee for elite – he’s No. 23 in the state, according to tennisrecruiting.net – players.
“I think he enjoys being on the team, with the guys,” Bowman said of Kreider, who reached as high as No. 34 of the USTA 16 singles rankings before aging out. “He enjoys being a leader and looks forward to the social aspect of being with all the guys and having fun.
“As a coach, you appreciate that, especially when you have a kid at his level who’s not just consumed with himself.”
Kreider topped Bethel Park’s Dante Rebello 6-3, 6-3 for the title last year but fell to eventual WPIAL champion Will Nesbitt of Butler 10-2 in the Class AAA quarterfinals.
Ironically enough, Kreider lost twice all of last season … both to Nesbitt, the other coming in the WPIAL Class AAA team tournament.
One of Kreider’s top competitors at the Section 5-AAA tournament, which will finish with the finals and third-place match at 2 p.m. Thursday, could be Canon-McMillan freshman Chris Gladden.
“The section lost a lot of good guys from last year, a lot of seniors,” Kreider said. “And it will be different for me, because I’m only a junior. But I feel like I’m definitely going to have a lot of eyes on me. Everybody knows me this year because when I was a freshman, I ended up placing fourth in the section. Then I won last year, so I feel like everybody is going to be gunning for me.”