Andrew Korinek recently won the Class 5A boys state singles championship in Austin, where he will play for the Texas Longhorns when the time comes. For now, he is finishing his junior year at the original Mansfield High School, and there's plenty to keep him busy locally.
Korinek has gone to Mansfield schools since he was a child, but last year he was home-schooled for a semester so he could focus on tennis. He would wake up at 8 a.m., do an hour of schoolwork, go to Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch for tennis practice from 10:30 until 3 p.m., take an hour off, then do schoolwork from 4-6 p.m.
That work ethic explains how he could be ranked in the top 40 in a class of more than 500 and have a grade-point average of 101. He prefers science and math to English class -- "I'm better at numbers than words," he says -- and hopes to study those subjects at UT-Austin (but not yet, as his senior year at Mansfield awaits).
His parents, two brothers and big sister all got to see him win state in Austin, where they all have gone to UT at some point. They are a Longhorns family, so it was no surprise that Korinek committed early. Perhaps his little sis will enroll there, too.
They watched Korinek win a tough two-setter in the quarterfinals, then get through the semifinals and final with ease. A few hours after the big victory, the family was still celebrating in Austin when Mansfield High School's student body heard on the loudspeaker that he had won state.
"My friends were pretty excited," he said. "Other high school kids recognize a state championship, so I've gotten more attention for this than for some of my other big wins."
Korinek trains at Brookhaven and has chosen to work on his game here rather than attempt what his more high-profile friends, Mitch Krueger of Aledo and Shane Vinsant of Keller, are doing. All three are accomplished juniors, but Korinek has focused on winning state (done) and on defending his title at the upcoming Capsher Texas Grand Slam, scheduled for June 10-18 at Texas A&M in College Station.
"Mitch and Shane are just taking a different route than I am," he explains, "but I expect us to be in the same place in the big picture: first in college, then hopefully some day in the pros."
Like Krueger and Vinsant, Korinek has a head-turningly impressive resume.
"I'm good friends with Shane, because we've been playing tournaments together since I was about 8," says Korinek, 17. "Mitch is my friend, too. It's so cool that those guys got to the Italian Open junior [doubles] finals. That's so awesome. We spoke about it over Facebook, because they are still in Europe right now."
So while Krueger and Vinsant were playing in Italy and now France, where they got through the first rounds of the singles and doubles in the French Open junior tournament, Korinek has been enjoying his new status as state champion. He's also playing golf and spinning random items on his fingertips (more on that later).
"Golf is so relaxing," Korinek says, "while tennis is so physically demanding."
Korinek plays tennis with his right hand but golf with his left. He says he shoots in the 80s from the back tees at Walnut Creek Country Club, where longtime tennis director Ernie Abraham still remembers seeing Korinek's mother push him along the tennis courts in a stroller.
Makes sense, because Korinek has been playing tennis since he could walk. He played at Walnut Creek until he was 11, then started training at Brookhaven, where Vinsant trains and Krueger has trained. Korinek has a dependable two-handed backhand and loves to play net, but he admits his coaches at Brookhaven are always trying to get him to come in more.
"I'm more of a serve-and-stay-back kind of guy," Korinek says, "but everybody wants me to come to net."
I asked him if he had any hobbies most people don't know about or just the unfortunate addiction to videogames that so many people seem to have these days. To my surprise, he said, "I'm not a videogame guy." Yahoo!
What he loves to do that only his close friends know about is spin things on his fingertips. He can spin a pen, a basketball or -- my personal favorite -- his iPhone. Is there an app for that?