For the first time in more than a decade, uncertainty reigned in Medina County.
There were no returning state qualifiers in boys tennis — and thusly, no clear-cut top player entering the season.
It didn’t take long for one athlete to step to the head of the class.
“Adam Slomski is the player to beat in the county,” Medina coach Alison Snook declared just six days into the campaign. “He has all of the tools to have a great year.”
Those words proved prophetic as Slomski set the standard for the sport locally.
The Brunswick senior went undefeated during the regular season, then embarked on a magical postseason run that propelled him to the Division I state tournament for the initial time.
Slomski fulfilled his dreams by making history as the Blue Devils’ first state qualifier, setting the school record for career singles wins and earning the 2018 Gazette MVP award.
“The difference from the last few seasons is I believe in my game now,” the four-year letterwinner and four-time all-conference honoree said. “When things weren’t going well, I just reset and pretended what I was doing wrong had never happened.
“Honestly, there were times when I wasn’t certain I would win a tough match, but I always kept believing.”
The 6-foot-1 right-hander thrived under pressure, regardless of the competition or the conditions, developing a reputation as a big-game performer. That attribute piqued the interest of the coaching staff at Cleveland State, where he will be a preferred walk-on in the fall.
Slomski also demonstrated great growth at Brunswick, playing third singles as a freshman before ascending to the top spot in the lineup in 2016. He posted a county-best 18-5 record this spring — he finished second at the Greater Cleveland Conference Tournament and Akron Sectional — to raise his career mark to 67-23.
“The most impressive thing about Adam is he is still getting better and has room for even more improvement as he moves to the next level,” Blue Devils coach Michael Canterbury said. “Most high school players plateau by the time they are seniors, but he is just scratching the surface of his potential, which is why I can’t wait to follow him at Cleveland State.”
Slomski credits his father Krzysztof, a professional tennis coach, for refining his skills over the past three offseasons. He was a constant, positive presence at each Brunswick match.
The elder Slomski recognized that his son was spending so much time on the court last winter, he encouraged him to take several months off because he “was concerned about him burning out.”
As a result, Slomski returned to his other passions: Table tennis and soccer. He played in an indoor league in the latter and resumed his nationally ranked career in the former — leading to a moment that no one in his family will forget.
Slomski competed in several table tennis tournaments at the prestigious “Arnold Classic” sports festival in March, qualifying for the quarterfinals in one event. His charisma and style were a big hit at the Columbus Convention Center, prompting the tournament directors to invite him to play an exhibition with legendary movie star and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“The experience was truly one of a kind and will live with me until the day I die,” said Slomski, who was ranked in the top five in the United States in the junior U-18 division in 2013. “Honestly, I love big crowds and I’ll do anything to entertain people. Playing with Arnold was something not many people can say they’ve done, so for that, I am very thankful.”
While playing both varieties of tennis will be a major part of his life for years to come, Slomski plans on pursuing a sports management degree in college. He envisions working alongside his dad in the sport they love and wants to teach others, both young and old.
“Making it to states represented the end of a long, hard journey that we took together,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to my father because he was the one who brought me from the ground up in just four years. My success is a huge testimony to his abilities as a coach.
“With his knowledge and expertise in teaching the wonderful game of tennis, and my knowledge on the management side, I believe we can make this an even more successful business.”