Senior Spotlight: Valley tennis standout Odrey knocking off the rust

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020 | 3:07 PM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Odrey enjoyed getting out in the sun and fresh air a couple of days ago as he hit a few tennis balls with his father.

“It was the first time on the court since the last high school practice (March 13) before the quarantine,” said Odrey, who finished third at the WPIAL Class AA singles tournament last spring and represented Valley at states in Hershey.

“I was a little bit rusty. It was a hard time, but I was able to get back into the swing of things.”

The good feelings generated were in contrast to the stinging emotions he and many others felt when the PIAA announced earlier this month that all of the high school spring sports seasons would be canceled in the face of the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“That was one of the biggest disappointments of my life,” said Odrey, also a leading scorer for the Vikings soccer team and an all-conference kicker for the football team this past fall.

“This (Valley) team was the strongest it’s ever been. We had great potential, and I knew this year could’ve been something special for us. I did a lot of offseason training to be ready for the season.”

But as Odrey finishes his academic work through remote learning, he maintains positivity by staying in shape and staying busy with goals of future academic success.

With plans to major in business management, Odrey is zeroing in on Duquesne or Grove City.

“I don’t plan on playing tennis professionally or anything like that, so I am concentrating on the academic side of things which will lead me to a great future,” Odrey said. “If I can play tennis, too, that would be great.”

Who would you say is your biggest tennis rival?

I would’ve played (Indiana senior Zach) Palko a number of times, with two section matches and possibly another match at WPIALs, too. A goal this year was trying to beat him. There is so much respect between us. We’ve gotten together out of season before to hit which shows you the friendship we have. When we play each other, it’s all business. But away from match time, we talk a lot and have a good time.

What is your best memory playing tennis for Valley?

Going to states last year individually. I made that a goal of mine after making state doubles as a sophomore. I was just so proud of myself and all the hard work I put in. I had so much support from coach (Rachel) Link and my teammates. My goal was to go far at states this year, but unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

What is your best memory as a sports fan?

I think any time that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play a big tennis match. It’s so much fun watching them, the back and forth for every point and how close the matches are. They always put on a show.”

What is a daily routine like for you under the stay-at-home orders?

I try to get up early every morning, get my schoolwork done, have breakfast, go work out and then play video games (online) against my friends and teammates. I’m not saying it’s the most beneficial thing to do, but it’s a fun thing I do to keep from being bored. I’ll also see what chores I need to do during that time.

Are there any TV series that have hooked you in?

There is a Japanese anime series called “Prince of Tennis” which follows a boy through winning American junior tennis tournaments. In anime, there are a lot of episodes in one season. There are 100 episodes in a season, and I am about halfway done with the first season. I think it’s pretty interesting. My friends and my girlfriend don’t think so, but it’s keeping me busy, and I love watching it.

If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be?

Maybe Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone in character). It would be something to give me and others that extra push. He would be so motivational, 100%.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

You have to stay focused and accomplish what you set out to do. Academics, sports or anything else, you have to put the work in to get what you want. You have to make sure you stay motivated and stay on top of things.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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