A power game featuring four different types of serves and a strong forehand paved the way for Yokota freshman Ryunosuke Roesch to capture the Far East tournament boys singles title.

A power game featuring four different types of serves and a strong forehand paved the way for Yokota freshman Ryunosuke Roesch to capture the Far East tournament boys singles title. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Stars and Stripes has selected an Athlete of the Year for each of the respective fall sports played across each of DODEA’s Europe and Pacific theaters. Check out our site this week to read profiles for golf (Tuesday), tennis (Wednesday), cross country (Thursday), volleyball (Friday) and football (Saturday).

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – From the moment Ryunosuke Roesch stepped on the court in his season-opening match, Mark Lange knew he was watching something special.

“You could see it in his attitude, his confidence when he played,” said Lange, Matthew C. Perry’s coach, after Roesch, a Yokota freshman, beat the Samurai’s Max Bailey 6-0 in the opening singles match at Yokota.

“When you saw him get on the court, you could see he was at a different level,” Lange said.

Though just a first-year high school player, Roesch has been on tennis courts all his life, as well as having lived in Japan most of his life, having been born on Okinawa.

And true to Lange’s and others’ observations, Roesch buzz-sawed his way through the singles competition during the DODEA-Japan season, also winning a handful of doubles matches with partner Tommy Vogeley.

The season culminated with Roesch capturing the Far East boys singles title and Yokota winning the Far East Division II boys team title.

For that, Roesch has been named Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school boys tennis Athlete of the Year.

Before the Far East tournament even began, Lange made the bold prediction that Roesch would win the singles bracket.

“They’ve seen me play, they know how I play,” Roesch said of Lange’s and other opponents’ views of him.

Roesch relies mainly on his forehand, though he does have a variety of shots. “My strength is my power and my serves,” Roesch said, adding that he has four different types of serves.

It was when the Far East tournament came along, Oct. 23-26 at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, that nerves came into play, Roesch said.

He had heard about some of the players from elsewhere and got a bit of confirmation when he and Vogeley lost their second-round doubles match 9-7, to Choo and Lee.

“I was very nervous,” Roesch said. “I didn’t know the players in Korea and Okinawa. I didn’t know how good they were.”

Once past that doubles defeat, Roesch dismantled the boys singles bracket. While Lee and Choo went on to capture the boys doubles title, Roesch achieved vengeance against each of the Blackhawks’ stars in the later singles rounds.

Roesch beat Choo 6-1, 6-1 in the boys semifinals on Oct. 25, then downed Lee 6-0, 6-3 in the championship the next day.

“I was worried about whether I was playing my best game,” Roesch said. “My coach (Tommy Palmer) told me to just go out and play my own game. It worked for me at Far East.”

The weather also made him feel somewhat at home. “It was hot, but not really,” he said. “I grew up on Okinawa, so I was kind of used to it.”


Age — 15.

Place of birth — Okinawa.

Sports played besides tennis — Soccer.

Athlete he looks up to — Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios.

Favorite school subject — Math.

Least favorite school subject — History.

Favorite artist — Central Cee.

Favorite music — Hip hop, rap.

Favorite movie — Daddy’s Home II.

Favorite types of television — Comedies.

Favorite actor — Jim Carrey.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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