South Korean trek helped Moorestown's Ryan Dickerson hone his tennis game
Ryan Dickerson can help his Moorestown High School tennis teammates with their footwork, ground strokes and racket control. He also can tell them about living in South Korea for 21/2 months in Spartanlike pursuit of improvement in his game.
Ryan Dickerson can help his Moorestown High School tennis teammates with their footwork, ground strokes and racket control.
He also can tell them about living in South Korea for 21/2 months in Spartanlike pursuit of improvement in his game.
Those tales might not make much difference in Moorestown's quest to register its 14th state title in boys' tennis later this spring.
But they do reflect the level of Dickerson's commitment to the sport - and the experience and expertise that he brings to his new role as star player and team leader for the Quakers.
"Monklike," Moorestown coach Bill Kingston said of Dickerson's time in Seoul, where the athlete worked out with players from the Korean Davis Cup team as well as the country's junior Davis Cup squad.
Dickerson devoted his junior year to improving his tennis. He spent more than 10 weeks in Korea and also spent two one-month stints in Los Angeles, playing in tournaments and working with his coach, Sky Kim.
"I learned a lot, I improved a lot," Dickerson said. "It was tough, different, challenging. But it was a great experience and I think it's going to pay off for me."
Dickerson is back to play his senior season for Moorestown. He was a standout for the Quakers as a freshman and sophomore, compiling a combined record in those seasons of 75-5 and leading the team to the Group 3 state title in 2013.
Dickerson's return makes the Quakers a strong contender for another state crown. He will be one of the state's best players - a legitimate contender for the individual state title - and his presence should allow the rest of the team to play with confidence.
Kingston, who is beginning his 42d season with 1,041 career victories, said Dickerson has embraced his role as a tutor to his Moorestown teammates.
"He's devoured it," Kingston said. "We're so lucky. The guys are lucky. I'm lucky."
Dickerson, who plans to play tennis for Duke University next year, said he has enjoyed returning to Moorestown and committing himself to the team aspect of the sport.
"It's great," Dickerson said. "We've got some good players. We've got the chance to be a really good team.
"I'm excited about it. It's like a stepping-stone to Duke, the college tennis experience, which will be about the team as well."
Dickerson was one of the state's best players as a sophomore. He was 42-1 with his lone loss in the semifinals of the state singles tournament.
Kingston said Dickerson has "improved exponentially" since his sophomore season.
Dickerson said he had no choice but to work fanatically on his game during his time in Korea. He didn't speak the language and said he didn't meet anyone who spoke English, other than Kim.
"It was like eight hours of training a day," Dickerson said. "Training and schoolwork was pretty much all I did."
Dickerson also believes he sharpened his game with two extended stays in California. During those times, he said he lived in a rented room in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles, worked extensively with Kim and participated in tournaments against some of California's top younger players.
Those experiences likely strengthened Dickerson's game and broadened his perspective on life. He said they also increased his hopes of making the most of his senior season at Moorestown.
"I'm super excited," Dickerson said. "I think we're going to have a great season."