Having a mother who coaches tennis meant Francois Ross got an early introduction to the sport.
Ross left the sport for a while but, after coming back to it age age 14 and starting to take it more seriously, he has steadily increased his prominence with the Dallas High School program.
Now, as he prepares to take over the No. 1 singles spot for the Mountaineers, Ross still picks up key pointers from his mother, Marywood University women’s coach Dominique Lemire-Ross.
“My mom will help me in matches,” he said. “If I’m losing my head, she helps calm me down.”
That’s an important part of his approach this season. When Ross talks about what he needs to do most to handle the challenge of facing Wyoming Valley Conference top players, he points to two things – improving his volleys and “keeping his head.”
During his freshman year, Ross filled in as part of the varsity lineup whenever a teammate was missing. As a sophomore, he played regularly in the doubles lineup. Last season, he split time between singles and doubles.
Dallas coach Joe Pugliese plans to rely on Ross more heavily this season. Ross was away on vacation when the team was shut out by defending champion Wyoming Seminary in the opener, then suffered a loss in his return Monday when Dallas evened its record with a victory over Hazleton Area.
As Ross gets back in a groove after missing time, Pugliese plans to use him at the top of the lineup.
“He’s gotten bigger and stronger,” Pugliese said. “That’s probably his biggest asset. He’s grown a lot.”
Ross feels the additional strength come through in more powerful shots in many situations.
“With my forehand, my backhand and my serve,” he said. “All around, my hits are stronger.”
Ross worked on his game in the winter at Kingston Indoor Tennis. He enters his busy final season of high school play while his mother’s team has just three April matches – including April 19 at Misericordia University – in preparation for a milestone in Lemire-Ross’ coaching career.
Marywood is headed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Tournament in May after winning the Colonial States Athletic Conference title in the fall in its second season under Lemire-Ross. She moved to Marywood after spending three seasons as Dallas girls coach and still teaches junior tennis at the Valley Tennis and Swim Club in Shavertown.