Super Six Tennis: Guentert patiently awaits his turn as Brookwood's go-to guy

SNELLVILLE -- Mark Guentert is hardly an unknown commodity when it comes to tennis.

After all, he is currently ranked as Georgia's No. 31 player on the tournament circuit by the United States Tennis Association.

And he's been a mainstay on the high school level since making the Brookwood varsity team as a freshman three years ago.

He has racked up a 41-2 record and two appearances on the Daily Post's All-County team playing at No. 1 doubles and Nos. 2 and 3 singles throughout his career, including a 17-1 mark at No. 2 singles during the Broncos' run to the Class AAAAA state championship last year.

Yet, Guentert has always played more of a support role at Brookwood behind some of the program's most visible figures.

Now a senior, Guentert gets his turn to step into the high school limelight as the Broncos' No. 1 singles player.

While it represents a different role for him, it's one he is eager to accept.

"It puts a little more pressure on me," Guentert said. "But it makes me more excited about the season. ... I've always wanted to play up (at No. 1 singles). Playing (No.) 2 was great for me last year. I was really happy about that. Being able to play No. 1 this year is going to be great, too."

As good as Guentert has been as a three-year starter for the Broncos, he's had to be patient by playing behind such strong singles players as two-time first-team All-County selection Grayson Mills and 2011 Daily Post Boys Player of the Year Randy Phillips.

In addition, he's had a shadow to emerge from in his own family in the form of his older sister, four-time All-County selection and 2006 Daily Post Girls Co-Player of the Year Dana Guentert.

Through it all, Guentert has patiently waited his turn as the Broncos' go-to guy, and Brookwood boys coach Heath Hinton is convinced he's ready to handle the pressure of No. 1 singles.

"Mark's been the kind of player where he's taken a leadership role on the team ... all along, even as a freshman and especially as a sophomore and junior," Hinton said. "He's won a couple of the most amazing matches we've had. My big memory is the first big match under the lights. We were in the second round of state ... against Milton two years ago ... and he was out there (in a) 2-2 (match) in this unbelievably long match. It was cold. It was 9 o'clock at night. And he pulled it out. It was the farthest we'd been (at state) in a while.

"He's done that, even from the beginning. ... He's just always been there."

Guentert admits the pressure of playing No. 1 singles is different, mainly because of timing.

However, he says Mills and Phillips have served as perfect role models for him to learn how to deal with that different pressure.

"I learned a lot from Grayson," Guentert said. "I felt like he knew how to take care of business and keep his priorities straight. And watching Randy, he just had great composure on the court -- something I hope I can continue this year because I have to play first (in matches) and kind of set the tone for the rest of the matches."

Next year will be perhaps a bigger learning experience for Guentert -- one that will, in all likelihood, take place in a military setting.

He has scholarship offers from the United States Coast Guard Academy and The Citadel, and is awaiting word as to whether he will receive an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

"It's something I've been thinking about for a while," Guentert said. "It's something I'd like to do after college -- to see if I can get into a career in (the military) or move on into something in law enforcement."