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Nevolo climbs in national ranks
By Bob Gosman | Daily Herald Correspondent

Dennis Nevolo, here in action during the 2006 high school season with Warren, has earned a No. 2 national ranking.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/12/2008 12:09 AM

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Dennis Nevolo disappeared from the high school tennis scene the last two years.

He had a good reason.

He was too busy making a name for himself on the national stage.

After winning the IHSA state singles title as a sophomore at Warren, Nevolo was home-schooled the last two years. This allowed him the flexibility to train more and travel to national tournaments.

According to TennisRecruiting.net, Nevolo is the No. 2-ranked boys 18s player. His tournament titles include the Jerry Simmons ITF, the Midwest Indoors Closed and the National Open in Tampa. He was a singles finalist in the USTA National Spring Championships.

Nevolo, one of the nation's most highly recruited players, will play next year for the University of Illinois.

"It's a very professional atmosphere," Nevolo said. "I got along with the guys and felt very comfortable."

In a perfect world, Nevolo would have remained at Warren Township High School the last two years. But it became impractical when his tennis travel schedule would have necessitated that he miss about 60 days of school.

"I had to stay self-motivated," he said. "It was pretty tough not to have classmates, but I did pretty well and found a way to pull through."

Nevolo, whose fraternal twin David just graduated from Warren, stayed in close contact with his high school friends and often attended football and basketball games. When Denis Bogatov was playing for the state singles title, Nevolo was sending text messages to his former teammates asking for updates.

"Some kids don't play high school tennis because they don't think it's important, but Dennis was a different story," Warren coach Greg Cohen said. "There was no way he could have taken a full class load and still played at the level (he wanted to)."

As a sophomore at Warren, Nevolo did not drop a set and faced only one set point.

"People asked me what I said to him on crossovers," Cohen said. "I told him it was just fun to watch him play. He's a great athlete who's worked very hard on his game."

His mental game is just as strong.

"He's a maestro," Cohen said. "He knows how his opponent will respond and he thinks (several) shots ahead."

As a child, Nevolo dabbled with other sports but nothing could compete with the excitement of tennis.

To this day, he is passionate about tennis. He even spends some of his down time watching tennis highlights on youtube.com

"Other sports were too slow for me," he said. "In tennis, you play all the time. You're constantly hitting and moving."

And now he's moving on to the college level, and perhaps, in time, to the ATP Tour.