By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Noah Lee is a history-maker.
The best high school tennis player in The Press Democrat coverage area, he is the first athlete in Summerfield Waldorf School history to be honored as an All-Empire Athlete of the Year.
Despite competing in the weaker Coastal Mountain Conference, Lee demonstrated in North Coast Section and United States Tennis Association tournaments that he was the top high school player in the Empire.
In a high school career that ended this past spring, he didn’t lose a CMC match. In his senior year, he was also the only Redwood Empire player to receive an NCS seed. Ranked No.2, he lost a close opening-round match.
Alex Boshell, his coach the past two years at Summerfield, thinks the All-Empire honor is deserved.
“It’s great to see someone as determined as Noah get singled out for an important award,” Boshell said. “As a coach, it was a rare opportunity to be able to train a player like him.
“He has continually worked to improve his game. He travels to tournaments and goes to a private coach (Joaquin Lopez, the women’s tennis coach at Sonoma State).”
The fortitude paid off not only in the All-Empire honor, but in his Northern California USTA ranking. In the past year, he’s jumped from No.80 to No.30 in the 18-and-under division.
“What I like about tennis is the intensity,” Lee said. “It’s just you against your opponent, and the game moves fast.
“Against a good opponent, you let up on a point and you pay. It’s very challenging.”
Lee has an explosive serve, and his 6-foot-3 height gives him excellent court coverage.
“He’s a dominating presence on the court,” Boshell said.
Lee was introduced to the sport by his father, Mike.
“We would play at the Wikiup Tennis Club,” the younger Lee said. “I loved it right away.”
Lee said during his high school career he’s become more aggressive and also improved his backhand.
This fall, he’s enrolled at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., where hie will continue his tennis career.
2012 ALL-EMPIRE BOYS TENNIS
Player of the Year: Noah Lee, Summerfield Waldorf, senior
Jacob Gollub, Montgomery, junior
Ankar Goswami, Maria Carrillo, sophomore
Sean Hall, Sonoma Valley, junior
Matt Halligan, Casa Grande, junior
Stuart Horner, Maria Carrillo, sophomore
Moses Kuzu, Kelseyville, senior
Arthur Lai, Maria Carrillo, sophomore
Matt Lancaster, Analy, junior
Dylan Tasker, Cardinal Newman, junior
Kevin To, Piner, junior
John Bursick, Healdsburg, junior
Jeff Destruel, Cardinal Newman, sophomore
Peter Jensch, Healdsburg, junior
Max Leinen, Cardinal Newman, junior
Tim McCullough, Cardinal Newman, junior
Lanny Mounts, Ukiah, junior
Matt Payne, Cardinal Newman, sophomore
Connor Rutten, Maria Carrillo, senior
Noah Straus, Santa Rosa, junior
Long Vu, Piner, senior
Coach of the Year: George Deguchi, Maria Carrillo