STRASBURG — Daniel Nam decided to go out for Strasburg’s boys tennis team his sophomore year and it paid off.
Nam said he’s surprised at how far he’s came since he first started playing the sport.
“I wasn’t really good when I first started,” Nam said. “And I progressively got better. So it’s a good feeling.”
Nam, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2022 Boys Tennis Player of the Year, had a strong senior season. Nam won the Bull Run District singles title and advanced to the Region 2B tournament.
Strasburg’s program is only in its second full year of existence, and Nam became the first player to win a district title and secure a regional berth.
Nam beat East Rockingham’s Colt Hatton in the Bull Run District singles final.
“It was a hard fight,” Nam said. “A really good feeling once I won it. He was a really good opponent.”
Strasburg coach Ken Jaeger said he was impressed with how far Nam has come over the last few years.
“His improvement up to now has been incredible,” Jaeger said. “In three years to win districts and be named Player of the Year. It’s quite an honor, and I’m really proud of Daniel for his accomplishments.”
Nam’s sophomore season didn’t reach the regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year Nam played at No. 2 singles and also played at No. 1 doubles with teammate Nick Lear, a 2021 Strasburg graduate.
Nam said Lear helped him a lot with his game.
“It felt good playing with Nick,” Nam said. “It was really enjoyable. I learned a lot because he was a better player and playing with better people makes you better. He helped a lot. He made me improve.”
Nam said in the offseason he began practicing more on his serve and Jaeger said it really showed this season.
“His serves,” Jaeger said of what Nam had most improved on. “Two years ago he would just lob it over the net. But now he has a good strong, power serve. And his first-serve percentage is very, very high.”
Nam said the best part about the season was being around the team.
“Just practicing with teammates was really fun,” Nam said. “Really building up the team chemistry and spending the time with them was very good.”
Last season the Rams only had four players on the squad and had to forfeit individual matches, but this year they had six. Strasburg was able to win two team matches for the first time and Nam said it was great having a full squad.
“It felt really good, because last year it was nothing like that,” Nam said. “It’s good to have teammates, and seeing them all improve. It was a really good feeling.”
The Bull Run District had strong competition at the No. 1 singles position with everyone being competitive with each other. Nam said he enjoyed playing against Central’s Owen Rimel the most.
“I definitely liked playing with Owen,” Nam said. “He’s really nice, and I’m glad I got to play with him.”
Nam said his favorite shot is the forehand and it’s one of the strongest parts of his game.
Nam has also become strong at playing at the net, and Jaeger said that was a key for him this season.
“We work on that in practice,” Jaeger said of Nam’s net play. “We work on when is the best time to approach the net, and he picked up on that very quickly and it paid off. I think that’s how he won the districts because of that strategy.”
Nam lost in the Region 2B semifinals to Stuarts Draft’s Aiden Maddox, 7-6, 6-4.
Nam was a team captain this season and he said he tried to be a good leader for the team.
“I tried to be a good role model for them, and give them a nice pathway for tennis,” he said.
Nam said he hopes to play on a club team at Virginia Tech, where he will attend this fall. He said he plans to continue to play tennis recreationally and it’s helped him in a lot of ways the last few years.
“It’s really helped me motivate myself, and just become a better player progressively,” Nam said.