Passion driving Twinsburg tennis' Woods to new heights

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Twinsburg Tigers

Brock Woods wasn’t around when men’s tennis was one of the most popular sports in the 1970s and 80s.

That’s when tennis entertained with polarizing personalities and classic matches with the likes of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Năstase, Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl.

A Twinsburg senior, Woods has strong experience, but is considered a “newcomer” to the varsity program since spring sports returned this year after 2020 was lost.

Back in 2019, Woods was one of the better junior varsity players, primarily in doubles play.

Seemingly overnight, Woods is now among the Tiger’s team leaders as passion and intensity are two of his finest intangibles.

In reality, it has been anything but overnight or easy.

Woods has put in the work as a four-year program player.

“Brock has come so far since his freshman year, making large improvements in his game each year,” pointed out Tiger head coach Mike Porinchak.

Positioned at first doubles with another senior with tremendous passion in Nate Wagner, Woods has had success this spring.

“They played a lot together their sophomore year on JV, so they were a natural fit this year and they complement each other very well,” proclaimed Porinchak.

Woods and Wagner are 6-6 overall this season, going up against some gifted doubles teams while competing in the rugged Suburban League.

“My coaches Mr. Porinchak and Mr. (Russ) Chappell have been great these past four years helping me shape my tennis skills and made me a better person,” stressed Woods.

“Along with my coaches, my doubles partner, who is one of my good friends on and off the court, Nate Wagner, has been an amazing teammate throughout the past two seasons,” offered Woods.

Wagner and Woods feed off of each other on the court for the Tigers (6-6), who are 4-2 in the loaded Suburban League National Conference. The league tournament is set for April 30 at Medina Highland.

Just like any high school tennis player, Woods has a weakness or two, but his strengths far outweigh any shortcomings.

“Brock’s weakness is his footwork, which we continue to work on every day,” emphasized Porinchak. “I think his greatest strengths are his first serve and his quick hands at the net.”

Porinchak loves the fire that Woods possesses.

“What I like most about Brock is he is such a competitor,” the Tiger mentor said. “He wants to win so badly and even has a little bit of a temper, but I appreciate his temper because it means he cares.”

Woods agrees with his head coach.

“As a tennis player, my strengths are my strong serves and volleys that go hand in hand with my competitive spirit,” he said.

That passion also helps Woods off the courts as well as aiding his mental game.

“The sport of tennis means a lot to Brock and he uses it as an outlet to get away from school work or other stresses in his life,” explained Porinchak.

Woods started playing tennis at a young age just through a casual summer activity and his brother was a part of it.

“I started playing tennis when I was five years old,” said Woods. “It started off as a fun activity for me to do with friends during the summers and then I started taking it seriously in middle school.”

“I am the best player I can be through practice and experience on the court as well as match play against my older brother Bryce Woods, who I have only just surpassed,” he added. “I have played countless matches against him whether or not we were on vacation or at home.”

Porinchak has indicated that Woods always knows where to be on the court.

Strengths like that can come through various experiences – like the one Woods forged at the Bay View Association – a storied summer community near the shore of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay in Petoskey, MI.

“I go up to Bay View every summer and I work as a tennis instructor for the younger kids,” said Woods.

“This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to practice with former professional tennis player Gretchen Rush,” Woods added.

Rush is the tennis director at Bay View.

“She (Rush) was my boss, but also gave time for the people who had working for her to practice with as well as give pointers to them,” noted Woods.

“Rush was an inspiration and always enthusiastic about tennis, and she made me look at tennis in a new and brighter light.”

Now, the lights are shining on Woods, who hopes to have a bright senior campaign.