Whitley County senior Danny Butcher wants to end his high school tennis season as one of the best players in the state of Kentucky. How can he do that? By playing as much tennis as he possibly can.

The 18-year old son of University of Cumberlands Basketball Coach Don Butcher decided when he was in middle school that tennis was going to be his sport.

“To be honest, I always went out and played tennis even during basketball season. I went out and played with Coach Tan’s son, William,” Butcher said. “He was more serious about it at the time. I just goofed around and had a good time. Then I didn’t play basketball one year in middle school I picked up tennis to be the sport I wanted to focus on.

After I played my first year of high school as a seventh grader that summer I practiced every day and started to run and train more,” he said.

“I started getting better and better and decided maybe tennis was the way to go instead of basketball. I thought I could go farther in tennis then basketball. We the help of my parents, Coach Tan and everyone else around me I kept pushing tennis and I have been focused on tennis since,” Butcher said.

“I’ve been traveling around all summer long playing in different tournaments all over the state,” Butcher said. “I have been practicing every day, working out at a high level.”

Butcher, who has made it to the Kentucky High School State Tennis Tournament three years in a row wants to get back one more time and go out with a bang.

Butcher played in the state tournament doubles as a freshman with Ryan Kelley and returned as a sophomore with Pete Comparoni. He made his first trip in the singles last season where he lost to Tanner Love of Louisville Trinity.

“I’ve played in tournaments at the University of Kentucky and at the Louisville Boat Club in an adult tournament. I want to play in the bigger events just to try and get my name out there and find a college to go to,” he said.

“So far I have done pretty well,” Butcher said. “I lost in the finals of a tournament in Barbourville to Brodie Freeman (Western Kentucky University). I won a tournament at Corbin High School which was part of the Mountain Tennis Circuit,” he said. “I won the singles and double’ both at Corbin and I won the doubles’ tournament at Barbourville.”

Butcher played in the prestigious Ryan Holder Tournament at UK. “I got a good draw and got on a roll and made it to the finals where I lost to a kid from St. Xavier, Brandon Lancaster. “He is a very good player,” Butcher added.

Last weekend Butcher added back to Louisville for an adult tournament. “That tournament had players from UK and U of L.  I lost my first match, but went on to the finals of the consolation bracket. I lost that final game.”

“So, far I have done a pretty good job for myself,” he said.

Butcher said with the help of his parents he has gotten to play with a lot of talented players. “I have hit with a lot of different people and try to incorporate a lot of different stuff into my game. I think the more advice and tips you get, the better I will be,” he said.

Butcher even went out of the country to enjoy a week of tennis when he went to Barcelona, Spain, with a friend he met through tennis, Juanjo De La Llera. “I got to practice on clay courts for the first time. Everyday day is a wonderful day over there. Club Tennis Barcino is a real nice place to play. There are clay courts everywhere, a fitness center, a place to run and train,” he said. “We played for several hours a day while I was over there and got beat by Llera everyday, which was good for me.”

His routine also includes his dad; “we go out to the courts everyday for several hours. He works with me on certain drills and we play points.”

“I want to get as good as I can for next season,” he said. “I want to do as good as I can next year. I want to go back to the state tournament. I don’t want to be disappointed with the final result. I want to continue to improve for college tennis. I want to play somewhere collegiately.

Several colleges have begun talking to Butcher. “I’ve been in contact with Western Kentucky, Georgetown College and the University of the Cumberlands. He drew Western’s attention after beating Coach Jeff True’s son (Will) in a tournament.

 “I want to go into a program that has a winning tradition that has a good season every year. Someone that is always competitive at the national level. I want to go to the school that will give me the best opportunity to improve on my tennis and be in a good program,” he said.

However, his outdoor season isn’t over. He was headed to Richmond to meet a doubles’ partner for a tournament in Rome, Ga. “A friend of mine that I played this summer, Colin Hart from Lincoln County, we are going to play in a national doubles’ tournament,” Butcher said. “We have never played together before, so I am headed to Richmond for some practice time. We want to get a feel for each other, to see what our strengths and weakness’ are. We need to talk and communicate and work out some kinks before we go down there and start playing.”

Even then the season isn’t over for Butcher, who hopes to play in some indoor tournaments this winter.

By the time the high school season gets underway, Butcher will definitely be a veteran and favorite to repeat as the 13th Region champion.