Pratt back to form after surgery

Bishop England sophomore Jared Pratt. Photo by James Beck

Jared Pratt appears to be all the way back.

Just ask one of his junior peers, Porter-Gaud ace Brant Fenno.

“Jared is definitely recovered from his surgery and back to where he was two years ago in the rankings,” said Fenno.

“He beat both Jacob (Jahn) and me decisively (in last weekend’s National Level 2 tournament in Montgomery, Ala.).”

Pratt had an exceptional weekend in Montgomery in winning both the singles and doubles titles in the boys 16 draw.

Pratt is the Bishop England star who was the Lowcountry player of the year last spring. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the state, No. 3 in the South and No. 49 in the nation, all in boys 16. A sophomore, he turned 16 years old in September.

Pratt had been working on a two-year plan after having to abandon his tennis career two years ago to undergo surgery for the curved-spine condition Scoliosis.

“Jared started back playing national tournaments this summer in the clay-court nationals,” his mother, Diane, said. “That was our goal, just to get back to the clay-court nationals in two years.”

Two days prior to his surgery in late September 2013, Pratt played No. 1 singles and doubles for the S.C. Southern Cup team and posted an 8-0 record as South Carolina finished second to Georgia in the Southern competition. He then was ranked No. 5 in the South in boys 14.

Pratt was diagnosed with minor Scoliosis at age nine, the same year his family moved to Daniel Island from Madison, Wis.

The condition continued to progress until surgery became eminent. “In July (2013), his curve had progressed significantly to 45 percent and surgery became necessary,” his mother said at the time.

Pratt qualified to play in this month’s Orange Bowl tournament, but his mother said, “He didn’t want to miss school.” He will be playing in the Winter Nationals in Scottsdale, Ariz., during the Christmas to New Year’s Day period.

All of this is wonderful news to Bishop England coach Kristin Fleming Arnold, who is still celebrating her girls team’s fifth straight state championship and looking forward to Pratt leading the boys team to a possible second consecutive state title next spring.

Indeed, it’s a great time for boys high school tennis in the area. Fenno is a sophomore who also led Porter-Gaud to a state championship last spring. He is currently ranked 38th in the South.

Fenno earned an invitation to compete in the Orange Bowl qualifying, but declined because as his father (Edward) said, “too much homework and preparation for exams at Porter-Gaud.”

There also is hope that Jahn will return to high school tennis with Academic Magnet after sitting out a year of high school tennis following an All-Lowcountry season for Wando as a seventh-grader. Jahn is currently ranked 34th in the South.

All three of these players, Pratt, Jahn and Fenno, currently train at Family Circle Tennis Center’s MWTennis Academy.

“It’s great competition being able to hit with all of these guys who are all relatively even,” Fenno said, acknowledging Pratt’s edge.

Academic Magnet student Sam Kavarana (No. 51 in the South) and home-schooled Chad Nash (59th in the South) also train at MWTennis.

Two other local players are ranked in the boys 14 Southern top 100: Earl Navarro (No. 62), who attends Academic Magnet; and Coy Simon (No. 73), who hits and serves one-handed from both sides in the style of former French Open doubles champion Luke Jensen. Both Navarro and Simon train at LTP Tennis.

Samantha Crawford has climbed into the highest spot in the women’s world rankings among the four players with local links. After winning a $50,000 event in Scottsdale, Ariz., to earn a wild card in the main draw of January’s Australian Open, Crawford followed that up by making the quarterfinals of a $115,000 tournament in Carlsbad, Calif., to advance all the way to a career-high No. 141 in the world rankings.

Charleston native Shelby Rogers is now ranked No. 149, followed by Jessica Pegula at No. 155 and Ellie Halbauer at No. 471.

Reach James Beck at jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

See his latest columns on Grand Slam tennis at ubitennis.com/english/