Daniel Island High School Senior To Play Professionals In Wednesday Match

September 27, 2023

Eighteen-year-old Jake Smith will play the most significant tennis match of his life thus far on Wednesday.

The high school senior who lives on Daniel Island will play doubles against a pair ranked in the top 100 in the world.

“I’m going to treat it like every other match – just go out there and try to beat my opponents,” Smith said. “It will be a huge highlight of my career. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Smith will compete in the LTP Challenger tournament at LTP Mount Pleasant. The ATP Challenger Tour event features some of the top ranked men’s tennis players on the planet as well as rising stars. 

Tournament Director Patrick Hieber said Smith earned the doubles wildcard draw. Hieber is general manager of LTP Academy, an elite training program that Smith has been a part of for the past five years.

“Jake has grown into a leadership role within LTP Academy and LTP Scholars and he deserves a chance to compete against the very best in our sport,” Hieber said. “In addition, his exceptional volleys and overall great hands make him a naturally gifted doubles player.”

Smith credits his Mom, a former tennis player for the University of Pennsylvania, for getting him interested in tennis at age 5. Since then, it’s become a family affair. Smith’s older brother plays tennis for Clemson University, and his younger brother is ranked in the top 20 nationally for his age group.

Last year’s LTP Challenger tournament was Smith’s first time attending an ATP event, and he said it’s a different experience watching in person.

“When you’re on ball crew for these guys and they hit a serve 135 miles per hour, you feel it,” Smith said. “It’s loud. It’s fun to watch and be that close.”

The experience of watching the men play has been motivational because their tennis is so exceptional, he said. From the physicality of the players to their speed on the courts to the pace of their shots to their positive attitude, Smith is taking notes and absorbing all that he can.

“You’re never going to see players like this just randomly,” he said. “You’re going to have to come to an event like this.”

Smith, who’s ranked No. 2 in South Carolina in his recruiting class, will be playing with Carter Pate, a 2023 LTP Scholars graduate and current LTP Academy student who’s ranked No. 1 in the state. The pair has been practicing for a couple of weeks together and feels ready.

“Doubles is a completely different game (than singles),” Smith said. “It comes down to how well you’re serving, how well you’re returning and how well you’re volleying, which is what I like. This is my kind of tennis.”

And is there a chance David could slay Goliath?

“In doubles, anything can happen, which is another reason I’m excited,” he said.

 

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