One look at Jamison Pfingston and its hard to imagine that he is a freshman.
The 6-foot, 2-inch Rapid City Stevens tennis player stands tall for someone his age, but it isn't just his height that's intimidating, it's also his game.
Pfingston won the Dakota Guardian Trust Junior Open Boys 18 Main Draw title at the Tennis Center of the Black Hills over the weekend, and it could just be the beginning of a great season.
"He is, in my opinion, the number one person to watch from Rapid as far as potential to become; who knows what level? Whatever he decides he wants to achieve and is willing to work for, he can get there," tennis coach John Forney said.
Along with Ivan Brown, who Pfingston said has been instrumental to his development, Forney has been coaching Pfingston in the offseason. He is also an assistant coach at St. Thomas More.
"He’s already played some amazing tennis," he said. "He’s got some maturing and growth to do but he seems to be right on path for that. He’s an exciting one to watch."
Pfingston topped Stevens teammate Jackson Ellis 6-3, 6-1 to win the title. Last year he lost in the finals of this tournament, and he said that is one way he can tell he has made strides over the year.
He also has big plans for the upcoming varsity season.
As an eighth grader he finished third in flight two singles in last year's state tournament in Sioux Falls.
"I can tell I’ve gotten a lot better since then because I’m winning easier now," he said. "I want to go undefeated and try to win state, try to help my teammates get better and do what I can."
It's a commitment that sees him work six days a week, playing tennis and lifting weights. He said he's like to go to a NCAA Division I school and possibly become a professional one day.
He understands the kind of work it will take because he has someone in the house who understands that work. His mother, Cindy Pfingston, played collegiate tennis and said she was the one who got him into the sport.
"Every parent would love have their kid follow in their footsteps and he took a liking to it," she said. "Jamison has dedicated his whole life to tennis, he’s a very good athlete all around, he used to play multiple sports but he decided he wanted to put his all in for tennis."
Cindy said two years ago Jamison played both soccer and tennis but decided to focus all of his time and energy on the sport he truly loved.
"When I found that I really loved the sport was when my mom brought me into lessons, she kept on working with me and pushing me," he said. "I got better really quick and I thought it could be something in the future."
Forney said as long as Jamison can maintain a good mentality, he should be okay. He also said that could be easier said than done for the freshman.
"Tennis is such a mental sport and with Jamison I see that as his biggest challenge at this point because his stroke is solid, and I see him doing a lot of things out there that are not really indicative of someone his age, so he’s very advanced for where he’s at in the game," he said. "The attitude, I always say, is where it all begins and as long as his attitude stays positive and he keeps working at it hard and at the same time having fun he’s going to be there."
He also said the tournament over the weekend will only help him improve in that area.
Last summer he won the Black Hills Common Cents Junior Open in Rapid City as well.
"Every tournament counts immensely because it puts you into a competitive environment where every point has a meaning, you’re not just out there hitting balls over the net," he said. "You have to be mentally engaged, and that is how you advance your game."
Jamison and the Raiders begin the season March 28 with the West River Invitational at Sioux Park.
Here are the other winners in other classes of the Dakota Guardian Trust Junior Open:
Girls 18: Ainsleigh Scott over Peyton Forney 6-3, 6-3; Girls 18 consolation: Paige Wagner over Megan Achbach 8-0; Girls 14: Bridget Raymond over Ella Hancock 1-6, 6-2, 10-7; Girls 14 consolation: Emma Thurness over Katelyn Denholm 8-6; Boys 18 consolation: Jace Wernsmann over Thomas Postma 8-8, 7-6 (7-5); Boys 14: Carter Cameron over Jedidiah Crisafulli 6-0, 6-1; Boys 14 consolation: Nicholas Paikos over Owen Benning-Kruse 8-4.