His winning mind-set

Jeff Tully

Tom McCullough has spent thousands of hours on the tennis court

perfecting his game.

Along with working with private coaches and taking part in

prestigious junior age-group tournaments across the nation,

McCullough has also gained experience competing for the Flintridge

Prep boys' team.

However, for the hard-hitting McCullough -- who graduated in June

-- it's what he is doing now off the court that he's hoping will help

elevate his game even more.

"What I'm really trying to do now is improve my mental approach to

the game," he said.

"I want to concentrate on my tennis as much as possible.

"I need to be more mentally tough, and I need to focus on tennis

even when I'm off the court. Really, I should be thinking about

tennis 24/7."

Along with taking part in tournaments and working out and

practicing during the summer, McCullough said he has been hard at

work on his physical conditioning.

"I am doing a lot more work on the bicycle and more running," he

said. "It's all about the things that are going to make me a better

tennis player."

McCullough has already laid the groundwork for a promising future

in tennis.

His skills were evident this past season, as he proved to be one

of the best players in the CIF Southern Section with the Rebels.

It's because of his success that McCullough has been honored as

the All-Area Boys' Singles Player of the Year, voted on by the

writers and editors of the News-Press and Burbank Leader.

McCullough joins the Crescenta Valley duo of juniors Ryan Chang

and Eric Ueo, who comprise the All-Area Doubles Team of the Year.

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Not playing much for the Rebels' program his first three seasons,

McCullough chose instead to compete in junior tournaments.

However, he decided to play for the Flintridge Prep team as a

senior, and his presence was not only a boost for the Rebels, but it

provided a rewarding and successful experience for McCullough.

"I wanted to get the experience of playing with the team, and

competing in CIF," he said. "I wanted to make it to CIF."

In a league that doesn't crown a singles champion, McCullough went

14-1 in Prep League play, and entered the postseason as the top

representative when No. 1 seed Alex Krueger-Wyman (17-1) dropped out

of the individuals.

McCullough was able to make noise in the tournament, eventually

falling to USC-bound senior Kaes Van't Hof of Santa Ana Mater Dei,

7-6 (7-2), 6-1, in the round of 16 at the Seacliff Tennis Club in

Huntington Beach.

Van't Hof went on to win the CIF individual championship.

McCullough became the third area athlete in as many years to

advance to the round of 16, following Crescenta Valley's Stanley

Sarapanich last year and Hoover's Dylan Kim in 2002.

With his high-school career behind him, McCullough said he will

now shift gears and stay focused on his drive to become a successful

collegiate player, as he heads for University of California Santa

Barbara.

"I still have a few more tournaments to play during the summer

before I go to college," said McCullough, who will compete in the

United States Hard Court Super National Championships next month in

Kalamazoo, Mich.

"I want to make sure I'm prepared when I join the college team."

The CV team of Chang and Ueo also had a fine season, as the duo

finished third in the Pacific League.

Although they played singles most of the season, the pair was

coupled for the league tournament, and the move paid off for the

Falcons, who had two teams in the semifinals.

CV finished second in league behind champion Arcadia, which

advanced to the Division II semifinals.

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