All-Decade honoree: Chad Simpson
DANVILLE – The bottom line for Chad Simpson wasn't the record. Neither he nor his family determined success or failure by the numbers shown in those columns.
"Growing up, it was never about winning and losing," said Simpson, a Danville High School graduate. "There was a focus on preparation, effort and sportsmanship."
Simpson's sport of choice was tennis and – if judged by the record – he was an overwhelming success.
He was a four-time Big 12 Conference champion in singles, the last two years at the No. 1 position. He was a four-time all-state honoree and a two-time Area Player of the Year.
A senior now at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Simpson can add to his impressive resume in the sport. He is also the selection as The News-Gazette Boys' Tennis Player of the Decade.
What he has learned over the years goes beyond the ability to hit a backhand or when to come to the net. If he could backtrack to when he was a high school freshman – but have the knowledge he currently possesses – Simpson would have a simple message to deliver.
"I would tell myself you do not have this gift for yourself," he said. "My talents were not so I could get medals and trophies, but I believe that God blessed me with the family, the talent and the desire to improve so that I can have a positive influence on my teammates, coaches and opponents.
"It took me until my junior year of college to understand this lesson."
Simpson occasionally allows himself to ponder where he'd be had he followed one of the other sports in which he excelled as a youth.
"Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I would have chosen basketball or baseball," he said, "but I do not have any regrets with choosing tennis."
As a sophomore at Danville, he was part of a doubles team that placed sixth at state. The finish earned him and his partner, senior Sean Bush, all-state first-team accolades.
Simpson concentrated on singles during his final two prep postseasons and finished seventh at state as a senior, the best individual placement by a Danville athlete in singles in 38 years.
Again, he was an all-state first-teamer.
"No doubt, I would not be the player I am today if it weren't for my family," Simpson said. "Their love for me as an athlete and a person has given me an advantage over other players."
Simpson is in his final semester of collegiate tennis – each year he has been one of Liberty's top three singles players – and he doesn't intend to stray far from the courts once his career concludes.
"I would love to coach it or teach it after college, but it is extremely tough to make a living playing tennis competitively in the pros. I think I will always play tennis, using it for exercise and enjoyment."
Simpson's plans are to teach health and physical education.
He is appreciative of the opportunities that have come his way through tennis.
"Because of tennis, I am able to attend an awesome Christian university where I have made quality friends, seen beautiful places and had more fun than I could imagine," Simpson said.
"I would like to publicly thank God for blessing me with the talent to play tennis and lastly, I owe my teammates a thank- you for pushing me in practice."
Area Boys' tennis All-decade team
NAME SCHOOL YR. GRAD COMMENT
Camerun Blaylock Danville 2007 Sectional finalist in singles as a junior
Stefan Budic Champaign Central 2007 Sectional finalist in singles two consecutive years
Sean Bush Danville 2004 On sectional championship doubles teams three years in a row
Micah Lemoine Urbana 2007 Transferred out of state after winning sectional singles crown as a freshman
William McMahan Urbana 2002 Sectional singles champion as a senior
Quinn Miller Centennial 2008 Sectional finalist in singles and doubles in back-to-back years
David Ruedi (left) Centennial 2009 Three sectional titles, two in singles and one in doubles
Chad Simpson Danville 2006 Two-time sectional champ in singles; two-time sectional finalist in doubles
Jon Stanley Danville 2003 On sectional championship doubles teams two years in a row
Joel Yambert Champaign Central 2009 Sectional singles champion as a junior
NEAR MISS: Lewis Towne, Danville, 2008