THE TIMES 1995 SPRING ALL-COUNTY TEAMS : Playing Against the Best Brought Out Best in Him : Player of the year: Foothill senior Ryan Thompson displayed leadership and competitive fire.

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Foothill's Ryan Thompson recited a few of the individual highlights from his senior year and then announced his proudest moment came during a match he played in near obscurity.

"Beating Riverside Poly in the quarterfinals was the most emotional match I've been in," Thompson said. "They put their top three singles players in doubles, but our No. 1 doubles swept anyway."

Thompson, The Times Orange County boys' tennis player of the year, didn't lose a game that day, or a point in the second set, but watching his teammates perform at their best is something he'll always remember.

"He was such a leader for this team," Foothill Coach Dennis Claus said. "We would not have had the year we had without Thompson."

A few of Thompson's "other" highlights included advancing to the semifinals of the Southern Section individuals tournament and sweeping Century League rival Villa Park and its top singles player Ryan Hollis, who had swept Thompson in his sophomore year.

"Ryan Hollis has been a nemesis in league, and this year I put it together against him," said Thompson, who played doubles against Villa Park his junior year.

Thompson also found success playing the other top singles players in Orange County.

He defeated Elliott West of Laguna Beach during the regular season and the quarterfinals of the individuals and swept Mater Dei's Bret Hankey in their only meeting in the individuals round of 16.

But a match against Joseph Gilbert of Sunny Hills never took place, to Thompson's dismay.

"Of the serve and volleyers in this area, he and I have the same games," Thompson said. "But if you look at how we play, it's really different."

Thompson, also a highly regarded doubles player, will play at Boise State for former UC Irvine coach Greg Patton. But he is looking beyond school.

"I want to go pro and see how far I can go," Thompson said.

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