Editor’s note: This is the first of eight player of the year Q&A’s that will run in the Northwest Herald over the next two weeks. Check out Tuesday’s edition for the Girls Track Athlete of the Year.
Never in Prairie Ridge history had a tennis player reached the final day at the state tennis tournament. Daniel Lamar and Patrick Nasta achieved that feat last month, reaching the consolation quarterfinals and finishing the Class 1A state tournament with a 4-2 record.
Lamar and Nasta were the defending Fox Valley Conference doubles champions. They missed out on the Class 2A state tournament in 2017, thanks to a highly competitive sectional draw. Entering 2018, Prairie Ridge dropped to Class 1A.
They were once again FVC doubles champions, going unbeaten in FVC play. They won their first two matches at state before losing in the round of 16, then won two more in the consolation.
They aren’t playing tennis in college, but Nasta will attend Brown University, while Lamar will attend Iowa State. They talked to the Northwest Herald about their tennis careers, hidden talents and biggest heroes.
How did you start playing tennis?
Nasta: My sister started when she was 11 with a group of their friends and they needed an extra player to make the class cheaper. So they brought me in. I was 9.
Lamar: My mom played tennis in high school. It was always something we would do. In fifth grade I took some group lessons through the Park District.
Who is your favorite pro tennis player?
Nasta: Gael Monfils. I love his trick shots.
Lamar: I gotta go with the crowd, I guess: Roger Federer. Everything he does is picture perfect.
What was your most memorable match this season?
Nasta: The sectional final against Vernon Hills [which they won].
Lamar: I can’t think of anything more memorable than qualifying for the Saturday at state. We knew that meant a lot to our coaches and the program because they’ve never had a team qualify for Saturday.
Who was your funniest teammate?
Nasta: James Lasak. He just always had a comment for everything, lightened the mood. Him and [Coach Jim] Benson. Benson’s really funny, too.
Lamar: Jakub Rugala. He’s just a riot. He says some really funny things that make you second-guess what he just said. He’s got a unique sense of humor.
Who is your biggest hero?
Nasta: My dad [Gordon Nasta] He’s really inspirational. He follows his passions and is interested in a lot of things. History, architecture, woodworking, landscaping.
Lamar: My dad [John Lamar], he’s a great guy. He’s always poking fun at me on the tennis court. He’s a hard-working dude who has a lot of passion for whatever he does.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Nasta: I can solve a Rubik's Cube in under a minute.
Lamar: I like to think I’m a good fisherman. I’ve got a mean burger flip on the grill. I’ve hosted several grill-outs for whoever wants to come during the school year on our lunch breaks.
Do you have any nicknames?
Nasta: Rick. Shortened Patrick. At senior-night coach gave us all nicknames and mine was Nasty-hands Nasta.
Lamar: People call me Lamer because my last name looks like ‘lame.’
What’s your favorite class in school?
Nasta: History and math.
Lamar: Either psychology or environmental science.
What’s the coolest place you’ve ever visited?
Nasta: Florence, Italy.
Lamar: I went to Colorado one time. It was pretty beautiful.
What are three of your favorite movies?
Nasta: “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Lamar: “The Pink Panther,” “Whiplash,” and “Dumb and Dumber.”