By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Joplin High School senior Jeremy Lynn grew up enjoying both soccer and tennis.
But when he was a seventh-grader, his coach told him he needed to pick one sport if he wanted to compete at the collegiate level.
“I chose tennis, and I don’t regret it at all,” Lynn said.
Who can argue?
Lynn has flourished in tennis and signed Thursday at Joplin High School to continue his career with the nationally-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers.
“It’s a great feeling,” Lynn said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for quite a while. It’s kind of a relief. It’s been a tough process and a little stressful at times, but I think made the right decision. I’m just happy to be a Gopher.”
According to the Tennis Recruiting Network, Lynn is the No. 65 recruit in the nation for the class of 2013 and No. 1 in Missouri.
He received a lot of national attention by winning the USTA National Open singles title this past summer in Denver. Lynn also finished fifth in the state for the Joplin Eagles as a junior and fourth at state for Thomas Jefferson as a freshman.
Joplin Eagles tennis coach Sean McWilliams said that this was the biggest boys tennis signing the school has ever had.
“His work ethic is phenomenal,” McWilliams said. “He’s a kid who spends time on the court every single day. He’s put in the hours and has earned everything that has been given to him. He’s a unique talent to come through Joplin and we’re fortunate to have him as a part of our team.”
Lynn will join a Minnesota squad that was 36th in this past spring’s Division I rankings.
But first Lynn has some unfinished business at the high school level.
He said wants to win state individually and help the Eagles to a team state title.
“He’s got high goals that he sets every year, and he works hard to achieve them,” McWilliams said. “I know that he’s looking forward to the season and the challenge of getting back to state and proving he’s better than fifth. I know he is, and he knows he is. He’s got to work to get there, and it’s a long road ahead.”
Lynn said he is willing to put in the extra work needed to make himself a complete player.
“One of the things I’ve working on for a little while now is to make my game a little more well-rounded,” he said. “I think the biggest part of my game is my forehand. I have a pretty big forehand, a pretty big serve. One of the good things about my game is that there are a lot of things I can work on to get better. In the past, I’ve won matches with my serve and forehand. But I haven’t used the net, volleyed or been very aggressive with my backhand. That’s some of the stuff I’m working on right now.”