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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Writing her conclusion
Power up your summer

Tennis star rallies toward goals

Dash Smith stays both motivated and committed
Eli Raikhel
Working both on the court and in the classroom, Dash finds a balance between his academics and tennis.

As the tennis team begins packing up to leave practice, the squeaks of shoes on the court and the rhythmic thud of a tennis ball hitting a racket remain. As the sun begins to set, junior Dash Smith stands alone on the court, tirelessly hitting ball after ball, showing his dedication to improving his tennis skills.

Dash is currently ranked 11th in Illinois as a three-star recruit in the common rating system for student-athletes. Dash’s journey to becoming a standout tennis player has been marked by significant milestones, including his first victory over a four-star opponent. 

“The first time I beat a four-star, it was like a big memory for me,” said Dash. “I didn’t believe I could do it, and then, once I won the match, I realized that really anything is possible.”

With his sights set on playing tennis in college, Dash remains grounded in his approach, emphasizing the importance of positivity and enjoying the game. 

“I think it’s important to just believe in yourself and not doubt yourself,” Dash said. “I had a lot of friends who burned out because they took tennis super seriously. So just keep things fun and make sure it’s not something that’s forced.”

Dash’s coach, Dawuad Talib, recognizes Dash’s unwavering dedication and work ethic, appreciating the consistent effort he shows on the court.

“He’s always been intense. He’ll hit all day until he passes out. So, you know, his commitment is like genetic or something because you just don’t find many kids his age working that hard,” Mr. Talib said.

Varsity tennis teammate Lee Rupple, a fellow junior, attests to Dash’s uplifting presence during practices. Lee finds that Dash is constantly looking to improve the players around him through giving advice and sharing his spirit with everyone on the team.

“Dash is always yelling,” Lee said. “He always brings great energy to practice, which other players on the courts just absorb.”

Beyond his dedication to tennis, Dash demonstrates an impressive commitment to balancing his academic responsibilities with his athletic pursuits. Working both on the court and in the classroom, Dash finds a balance between his academics and tennis.

“I know he is very academic, so there is definitely a balance there that allows him to come out and be who he is on and off the court,” Mr. Talib said.

Looking forward, Mr. Talib believes Dash possesses the skills and determination to continue playing at a higher level in tennis. With Dash’s multitude of skills, Mr. Talib believes Dash has the potential to excel even further in the sport. He said he sees no limits to Dash’s capabilities and anticipates a bright future for his tennis career.

“I mean, he’s fast, he’s smart, and he has power. He’s working on his touch, and he’s patient, which is probably his greatest gift,” Mr. Talib said. “So I don’t feel like there’s a ceiling for him right now. I definitely see him playing at a high level.” 

With a promising future ahead, Dash continues to sharpen both his skills and the skills of those around him, constantly displaying his dedication to tennis.

Lee said, “I think his dedication sets him apart from other players. He puts so much time into tennis practices every day. That’s not to say other top players aren’t practicing every day, but he actually puts 100% effort into his practice and his training.”

Despite Dash’s high skill level, he continues working with everybody on the team, further showcasing his dedication and team spirit.

“Dash is always seeking out the best groups, not just locally. He plays with college players that challenge his level,” Mr. Talib said. “But  the thing about Dash, though, is that he’ll go hit with the least-skilled player on the team and not think twice about it.”

As Dash finally finishes his practice each night, packing up his bags and retrieving each ball, he knows that each day of work he puts in brings him closer to his future as a successful tennis player, looking forward to the seemingly endless possibilities and opportunities that await him.

View Comments (5)
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About the Contributors
Milo Platz-Walker
Milo Platz-Walker, Reporter
Milo Platz-Walker is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as a reporter. He joined the staff as a ninth grader in 2021 and returned as a junior. Outside of journalism, Milo competes in karate, listens to music and spends time with friends and family.
Eli Raikhel
Eli Raikhel, Photographer
Eli Raikhel is a photographer and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures of school events. Outside of photojournalism, Eli enjoys playing soccer and playing with his dog.

Comments (5)

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  • B

    Bryce L.May 3, 2024 at 11:04 am

    Such an inspiring young man….I look forward to where he goes in life, and I hope I am there with him.

  • H

    Helen G Caddie-LarceniaApr 28, 2024 at 3:17 pm

    Congratulations Dash,
    May you continue to excel, achieve and follow your dreams and goals. How proud you and your parents must be.
    Much success and love,
    Aunt Helen Graya

  • W

    W. FosterApr 26, 2024 at 12:10 pm

    I am so proud of this young man. I pray that GOD gives him the strength to keep up the good work. I am a former D2 college tennis player. Don’t stop praying and don’t stop working hard to achieve your goals in life. Don’t look back we got you.

  • R

    RenaApr 25, 2024 at 9:15 pm

    Enjoyed the article and hope his dedication inspires others. Dedication and commitment is the key to success.
    Wishing you much success Dash!

  • A

    ayeshaApr 25, 2024 at 8:33 pm

    wow… congratulations dash!!!