A four-year varsity tennis player and two-time team captain, senior Andy Paden is chasing his third consecutive Catholic League doubles championship. He also is in search of his first trip to the state tournament. Another passion of his is sports broadcasting. Since junior year, Paden has been one of the voices of the Ramblers. The Glenview resident and graduate of Faith, Hope and Charity in Winnetka, Paden plans attend Northwestern University and study sports journalism. His sister, junior Caroline Paden, also is a Loyola tennis player. She captured a conference championship in doubles in the fall. Andy and Caroline’s parents — Jennifer and Richard — played college golf at Drake.
MAROON & GOLD: Hours before I talked to you, there was snow on the ground in the Chicago area. It should be nice outside by now. How do you deal with this climate as a tennis player?
ANDY PADEN: Bad weather is a big part of our season. I would prefer it to be warm, but you have to understand everybody has to play in it. The biggest hope is that it doesn’t rain too much.
M&G: How are you spending your spring break?
AP: I’m in Tampa [area] at Saddlebrook Resort [in Wesley Chapel]. When I have time off, I come here to train.
M&G: Seems like a good place to get away this time of year. How many hours of tennis are you putting in down there?
AP: I play three hours in the morning, do a lesson and then play another two hours in the afternoon. It can be mentally draining. When I’m not playing tennis, I go to the pool, beach or play golf.
M&G: You told me several touring professionals train at Saddlebrook, including John Isner, who played at University of Georgia, where I went to college. Isner is a multiple winner on the ATP tour and ranked No. 9 in the world. He’s also 6-foot-10.
AP: I’ve known John since fourth grade, and we hit together when I see him. It’s pretty cool. He’s definitely one of my favorite players. One of the things I do is bounce the ball between my legs before I serve. I learned that from him.
M&G: What’s the biggest difference hitting with someone like John and an elite high school player?
AP: They don’t miss. They hit the sweet spot every time. The speed of their game is faster, too.
M&G: This is your fourth varsity tennis season at Loyola. What are some of your highlights so far?
AP: The biggest was being named captain last year and again this year. I always dreamed of being a captain. It’s an honor.
M&G: What’s the most important role of a captain?
AP: To be a team-first player. Even though tennis is considered an individual sport, it’s not in high school. I’m looking out for the players as much as I can and helping out the coaches. You can’t only think about yourself.
M&G: What are your goals this season?
AP: Winning conference is the first. That’s such a big deal at Loyola. Me and a couple of guys have talked, and we think the sky is the limit for this team. We even talked about placing in the top 15 at the [Class AA] state tournament. I would like to qualify for state as an individual. I came up one match short last year. That has made me work that much harder.
M&G: Other than your leadership, what is a strength of yours as a player?
AP: I have a big serve. It’s the one shot you can control, and you can dictate the point from the start.
M&G: You’ve been successful as a doubles player at Loyola. What do you like about it?
AP: It’s faster than singles and more intense. I think it’s more exciting.
M&G: People in the Loyola sports community also recognize you for your work as a broadcaster. Along with senior Luke Phillips, you have served as the voice of the Ramblers for the past two years. How did you get started?
AP: I’ve always dreamed of being on ESPN. Freshman and sophomore years, Luke and I talked about wanted to do something like that. We jumped at the chance last year. I love being on air. I wrote my college essay about it.
M&G: What are your most memorable games?
AP: Maine South [football game in 2016] because it was my first. The second I spoke into the mic for the first time I knew it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve gone back and listened to it, and I hear how different I was then. I think we got a little too excited, and it’s something we laugh about now. I also loved doing the Jesuit Cup basketball games, especially the one at Wintrust Arena [in Chicago] this season. It was really cool to call a game at a college arena. I got to see what it was like to do it at the next level.