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Cannon Kingsley had a big freshman year at Ohio State

Cannon Kingsley with the backhand return against Wojciech

Cannon Kingsley with the backhand return against Wojciech Marek during their first-round junior singles match in the U.S. Open on Sept. 1, 2019. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Even though his freshman season at Ohio State was truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cannon Kingsley came away with memorable experiences and a slew of honors.

The 19-year-old from Northport was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rookie of the year on Monday, along with being an All-American and the Big Ten rookie of the year.

When the season was shut down in March, Kingsley had compiled a 19-3 record in singles and a 10-1 record in doubles. His signature win came Feb. 9 when he defeated then-No. 1 Daniel Cukierman, 6-4, 6-2, in the Buckeyes’ victory over No. 1 USC.

"When I beat the No. 1 player in the country, that was definitely one of the highlights of my season,” Kingsley said on Tuesday. “We played the No. 1 team in the country in USC and I was playing the No. 1 player in the country and it was a really big day. I was the first singles match off the court in straight sets, my first really big win of the season. That set the tone for me having a great season. Against Stanford I pulled off another top- 10 win.”

Kingsley, whose lifelong coach is his father, Harry, has been eyeing a pro career since he was a child. He played the world junior circuit, played in the junior tournaments of the four Grand Slams, and was a highly sought after college recruit. He’s found his time in Columbus, Ohio, to be highly beneficial.

"I’ve gotten a lot more mature, mentally and physically,” Kingsley said. “I think college tennis has brought out different aspects of my game, really helped in the long run, more so than when I was in juniors.”

His father has seen his progression.

"The biggest improvement is just the footwork, and moving forward and finishing at the net,” Harry Kingsley said. “Learning how to not let guys get away with floating balls, coming in and putting that ball away. A lot of emphasis on volleys in the doubles work and that’s helped him in singles to where he can close in and finish when a guy is just trying to keep it in play.”

After completing his freshman courses online, Kingsley has been playing in an International Tennis Series competition in Wesley Chapel, Florida, the last two weeks against a number of professional players and has been holding his own. An event created during the pandemic, four players participate in round-robin matches every other day with “short sets” of first to four games, no-ad scoring and let serves in play. Players call the lines and retrieve their own balls.

He lost to the tournament’s top-ranked player, No. 121 Paolo Lorenzi, in a third-set tiebreaker on Monday, ending a seven-match winning streak.

"There are a bunch of guys in top 300-400 in the world and it’s great to get some matches in against those guys,” Kingsley said. “There’s not too much pressure. It’s a good experience.”

Now, because of the pandemic, his collegiate future is uncertain.

“I’m not sure when I will be able to get back," Kingsley said, "but hopefully by the fall they will be opening things up and possibly get some voluntary practice in."

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