Staff Photo: John Bohn Taylor Buchholz, a tennis player with North Gwinnett High School, is one of the county's top tennis layers. Buchholz will play tennis at Methodist University. Buchholz finds athletic inspiration in all of his tennis coaches.
SUWANEE -- Before the tennis season started, Taylor Buchholz told anyone that was interested in joining North Gwinnett's team that they needed to meet him for offseason training.
That first day of voluntary practice he wasn't sure who would participate.
Then one by one his teammates and peers showed up at an off campus tennis court.
Buchholz had a two-hour practice session set up with drills and match play.
"It was kind of like I ran my own little academy," Buchholz said.
To some people it may seem a little overzealous to hear a high school student require his teammates to come to an offseason practice. One that is set up by their own teammate.
But that's Taylor Buchholz. He loves tennis. He loves being around the game, playing the game and teaching the game.
"I want to be a coach when I grow up," Buchholz said. "The guys respected me. They knew I knew what I was doing. They all know I want to be a coach and this means a lot to me."
Buchholz's passion for tennis has paid off this season. The senior is one of the county's top players, beating guys like Brookwood's Mark Guenthert and Norcross' Chris Willis. North has reached the state playoffs the last two years, but still hasn't won a playoff match. Buchholz hopes to change that this season.
"He's a mentor to all the other kids," North coach Paula Radloff said. "He takes them under his wing. He helps them with their game."
Buchholz's love of tennis began in middle school. He first picked up a racket as a 10-year-old, but didn't get serious with the sport until he was 12.
Buchholz began going to tennis academies, taking private lessons and playing in weekly tournaments to develop a competitive edge. By the time he was 14, he knew he had a passion for tennis and that he wanted to pursue it the rest of his life.
"I really knew this is my sport, this is my thing," Buchholz said. "I really worked hard at it and I want to take it to the next level."
Buchholz entered North has a highly ranked freshman on the Georgia tennis circuit. He had a great serve and was consistent with his play. His maturity on the court blew away Radloff the first day of tryouts.
"When you step in and you're immediately above all the other varsity players, it was like he didn't even have to try out," Radloff said. "After one day, I was like 'OK.'"
The 6-foot, 170-pound Buchholz has been a four-year starter for the Bulldogs. While he was good his freshman and sophomore year, he really matured as a player last season, when he had a 12-6 record and was a Daily Post second-team all-county selection.
He's been able to devote more of his time to tennis this spring. He set up his class schedule to take some online courses, allowing him to spend half days at North. He leaves the Suwanee school around lunch time and gets in a two-hour practice at Ace Academy in Norcross four days a week. At the Academy, Buchholz gets top level training and a chance to play with some of the area's top players on a regular basis.
"He personally has this drive that he wants to be good, he wants to win," Radloff said. "He does what it takes personally. It comes from within, he wants to do it. He just loves tennis. It's never a chore for him."
Buchholz plans to pursue his passion for tennis in college. He signed with Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., where he plans to take the school's renowned professional tennis management program.
That shouldn't come as a surprise considering he was running his own tennis practice earlier this year.
"He wants to make it his life instead of just make it a hobby. He loves it," Radloff said.