With the 2019 prep tennis campaign officially in the books, Joplin coach Ed Ingle and recently graduated senior Garret Lewis decided to look over the season’s results one last time.
And that’s when the pair made a discovery.
After a recalculation, the coach and his standout realized that Lewis had earned 36 singles victories this spring, not the 35 wins that they had originally reported.
Then came another realization — Lewis is the new Missouri state record-holder for singles victories in a season.
“We went through every match, counted them all up and, sure enough, it was 36,” Ingle said. “There was one we had missed.”
“We forgot to count my win during the state team tournament against Rockhurst,” Lewis said. “It was an amazing feeling when I found out I had the state record.”
Joplin High School informed MSHSAA of Lewis’ season record, and it’s already been accepted by the state association.
The previous record-holder was Andy Metzler, of Rockhurst, who won 35 matches in 2000. Two athletes have recorded 34 wins in a season, Derek Gillilan, of Lafayette County in 2007, and Matthew Waite, of Kirkwood, in 2008.
Lewis is now all alone on top of the single-season wins list.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Ingle said. “I think it’s something he’s probably dreamed about. Garret is a very goal-oriented kid.”
During his senior season, Lewis went 36-4 and finished seventh in the Class 2 singles bracket at the state tournament in Springfield.
The left-handed Lewis also owns the JHS school record for wins in a season. John Lazenby won 31 matches in 2008.
“I made it my goal to break the school record this year after I came up just short of it last year,” said Lewis, who won 30 matches as a junior. “I was able to get it done. One thing led to another, and I was also able to get the state record too. I feel like it’s an amazing accomplishment.”
Lewis attended College Heights Christian during his first two years of high school, playing tournaments on his own, before attending JHS as a junior and a senior.
Once he was officially an Eagle, Lewis became the top prep player in Southwest Missouri.
Lewis went 66-6 in singles the past two seasons, with a pair of all-state finishes, fourth in 2018 and seventh in 2019.
Lewis, who will continue his academic and athletic career at NCAA D-II Rockhurst University, also led the Eagles (18-5) to their first-ever final four berth in the team state tournament.
“I came in my junior year being a new kid, and I realized it was a team sport and I wasn’t competing by myself,” Lewis said. “We had a deep roster, and we expected to win. Taking on the role of team captain this year, I didn’t take any match for granted.
“We came up clutch throughout the season,” Lewis said. “We ran into some tough teams at the end of the season. I’ll always remember being with my teammates. Individually, I may not have won state this year, but I feel like I was able to accomplish something that not many people get to say they did. I feel like I was able to leave a mark.”
Ingle would agree with that last statement.
“I’ll remember Garret not only as a great player but also as a great leader,” Ingle said. “He was a real catalyst for the team. And he was our spiritual leader who prayed before the matches.”
After thinking about it a little longer, Ingle added a final point.
“Remembering Garret will be easy,” he said. “He’s just a great young man with great character. He definitely left his mark here in just two years. And now he’s got his place in the record books.”