Brendan McNamara hasn’t picked up a tennis racket since March 13.
And if you know Lancaster Catholic’s junior hard court standout, that’s like an eternity.
“I haven’t played in two months,” McNamara said this week. “March 13 was our last practice, and that’s the last time I played tennis. It’s been a long time.”
McNamara said he’s looking forward to getting back out on the court soon after an extended breather. He’s itching to play, after the season was abruptly canceled on April 9 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a lot to process,” McNamara said.
Even more so because McNamara had such big expectations for this spring. He was coming off Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three singles championship appearances last year, and he had his eyes on all kinds of prizes this time around.
It’s a banner era for Class 2A tennis players in the L-L League. Lancaster Country Day senior Jonah Rebert is the defending league and D3 champ, and Pequea Valley junior Brady Burns won league gold in 2018 and helped the Braves capture the PIAA team championship last year.
Last spring, Rebert outlasted McNamara 7-5, 7-6 in the league 2A finals. Two years ago, Burns beat McNamara 6-2, 6-2 in the league 2A finals. And in last year’s D3-2A title match, Rebert topped McNamara by a 6-1, 6-2 score.
Burns and McNamara are friends, and often practice on the side together.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have some great competition,” McNamara said. “I look forward to playing against Jonah and Brady. They’re both really good players, and when I play against them, it forces me to play my best. I’m always excited and I really look forward to playing against them, because it’s a great opportunity.”
The bad news is that McNamara is 0-3 against those guys in championship matches. But the good news is that McNamara has reached a pair of league finals and a district title match in two years, and those are certainly shiny items on his resume.
“There’s always a positive,” McNamara said. “I definitely used it this past offseason as motivation, and to push myself harder. As much as I want to see Jonah and Brady do well, I also want to win. So it’s definitely hard that there wasn’t a season, and that I won’t even get an opportunity. But I’ll use it to push myself that much harder for next year.”
“Brendan has definitely grown a lot mentally since his freshman year,” Lancaster Catholic coach Mike Cannon said. “It shows in how competitive he’s become, when he’s playing top players like Jonah Rebert and Brady Burns. He’s put the work in, and he plays the game the right way. He puts himself in positions to have opportunities to win. If you continue to do things the right way like that, it produces good results.”
Next spring, Rebert will be off at college. But Burns will be back, and he and McNamara are already on a collision course for some postseason matches in 2021.
Lancaster Catholic’s squad should also have plenty of expectations next March, with McNamara, juniors Miles Durrett and Ross Conway and sophomore George Brubaker all due back. Cannon, a former player for the Crusaders and Elizabethtown College, is super excited about that nucleus.
Meanwhile, McNamara is checking out colleges, and waiting for the USTA season to resume so he can have a summer season. Ranked No. 2 in Lancaster Catholic’s junior class, McNamara made a visit to the University of Miami in Florida, and he’s set to visit Duke University and the University of North Carolina when it’s safe to travel again.
"He's the complete package," Cannon said.
McNamara said he’ll make his college decision based on academics, not tennis. And if he can play tennis at the next level, that will be icing on the cake.
Wherever McNamara lands, he’s hoping he’ll have some championship victories added to his tennis resume before he gets there.