Tennis wasn't high on the list of priorities for Nancy and Gary Heinz when they moved into their new home on Daniel Island with their 5-year-old son, Austin, only a few months before the first Family Circle Cup arrived on the island.
THURSDAY: Boys Tennis
SATURDAY: Girls Lacrosse
SUNDAY: Boys Lacrosse
JUNE 16: Girls Track
JUNE 17: Boys Track
JUNE 18: Girls Soccer
JUNE 19: Boys Soccer
JUNE 20: Softball
JUNE 21: Baseball
JUNE 22: Athletes of the Year
The family attended the final of that initial Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island, and young Austin was quite inquisitive about the game being played by Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati that April Sunday in 2001.
Palmetto Christian Academy
Cross Tolliver, Porter-Gaud; Noah Stiepel, Bishop England; Andrew DaCosta, Wando; Ted Anastopoulo, West Ashley; Foster Moe, Porter-Gaud; Malone Vingi, Porter-Gaud.
Forrest Redden, Wando; Woods Browder, Wando; McMillan Covington, Wando; Dylan Sides, Stratford; Griffin Wong, Stratford; Alex Amble, Cane Bay; Tyler Hughes, Cane Bay; Stratas Anastapoulo, West Ashley; Jermaine Mitchell, Goose Creek; James Gaza, Goose Creek; Walker Long, Summerville; Harrison Parvey, Ashley Ridge; Michael Marshall, Ashley Ridge; Kenny Johnson, Colleton County; Charles Bailey, Colleton County; Tommy McManus, Fort Dorchester; Hunter Legerton, Academic Magnet; Daniel Knot, Bishop England; Jeffrey Jones, Bishop England; Jake Meyer, Bishop England; Thomas Sottile, Bishop England; Avery Holoubek, Pineood Prep; Larry Wert, Pinewood Prep; Kyle Russi, Pinewood Prep; Ben Diffley; Pinewood Prep; Kyle McCrae, Academic Magnet; Whitaker Moss, Academic Magnet; Paul Wright, James Island; Ethan Bridges, James Island; Hunter Sechrist, James Island; Luke Prendergast, Palmetto Christian; Trey Goolsby, Palmetto Christian; Brandon Kassouf, Palmetto Christian; Adam Seith, Summerville; Brandon Sekula, Summerville; Dustin Fleming, Berkeley; Russell Brown, Berkeley; Spence Howell, Fort Dorchester; Connor Cragie, Porter-Gaud; Jack Kammerer, Porter-Gaud.
It didn't take the family long to discover a passion for tennis as Austin started taking lessons at the I'On Club and quickly learned all about the new game.
Austin Heinz has never wavered in his commitment to the game. And Palmetto Christian Academy has been one of the primary beneficiaries of that commitment since he joined the school's tennis team as a sixth grader.
Four state championships and a tennis scholarship to Samford University later, Heinz is The Post and Courier's Lowcountry boys tennis player of the year for 2014. Heinz has been ranked as high as No. 1 in South Carolina and the South, and 27th nationally.
Heinz is joined on the All-Lowcountry team by former Pinewood Prep two-time All-Lowcountry Adam Elliget, now of Summerville High School, and repeat selections Lukas Zalesky of Bishop England, and Seth Pinosky and Brant Fenno of Porter-Gaud. Wando seventh-grader Jacob Jahn is the lone first-timer on the team.
Heinz, Zalesky and Pinosky are seniors, while Elliget is a junior and Fenno is an eighth-grader.
The coach of the year is Ronnie DuPre, who guided West Ashley to a 13-3 record and a runner-up finish in Region 7-AAAA. The Wildcats won only two matches in 2013.
In a time when many top junior tennis players are committed only to improving their skills while ignoring high school tennis, Heinz remained committed to the small private school in Mount Pleasant.
"I just stuck with Palmetto Christian and it paid off. It was a comfortable place for me," Heinz said. "Where I lived I could have gone to Wando. There are a lot of good things about PCA. For one thing, we were winning a bunch of state championships at the high school level, and the travel to state championships and playing that high level of tennis was one of the good things when I was younger."
Playing for longtime PCA coach and Family Circle pro Dewey Caulder was special for Heinz.
"Coach Caulder was a lot more than just a coach," Heinz said. "He taught me important lessons outside of tennis when I was younger."
Caulder had high praise for Heinz and what he has meant to the PCA tennis program.
"Austin never missed a match . . . he always wanted to play, no matter the level of the competition," Caulder said.
When the Family Circle Tennis Center opened and Fritz Nau moved in with his academy, Heinz switched to the world-class facility that is only about a mile from his home and where his mother currently serves as the membership director. His father is an ordained minister.
As Heinz looks forward to the next step in his tennis and academic life at Samford, he said, "For me as of right now, I want to immediately play in the top six ... I want to start in singles.
"I am going to get to come back to Charleston and play against some of the local teams, too."
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.