De Pere’s Balthazor aiming for state title
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – After finishing third at the WIAA Division 1 individual state tennis tournament a season ago, De Pere senior Nathan Balthazor is looking for a state title to end his illustrious high school career.
“It’s pretty much state or bust,” said Balthazor, who is the son of Jennifer and Ted. “At least that’s how I’m looking at it. I should be the No. 2 seed at state. I feel I’m playing well and focused. I do better at state with the pressure – I like that environment with the crowd cheering.”
Balthazor, whose serve tops out at about 110 mph, feels his physicality and heavy groundstrokes are an advantage against his opposition.
“There are a lot of good players that will be at the state tournament,” he said. “I know what I need to do – it’s just a matter of executing it all at the right time.”
Ironically, one of Balthazor’s biggest threats at state could be a familiar face in Green Bay Southwest’s Johnny Zakowski, who finished fifth last season.
After the state tournament wraps up in Madison June 2, Balthazor will turn his focus to Marquette University, where he will study biomedical engineering beginning this fall.
“I loved the campus – it blew me away,” Balthazor said. “It’s where I want to be. I’m excited to jump into the fitness and be with the team every day. I’m hoping I can maybe crack the lineup, at least for a few matches. We will have a senior-heavy team next season. It’s definitely a different level.”
Balthazor, who tied for seventh his freshman year, didn’t play high school tennis his sophomore season.
Instead, he traveled around the country playing in United States Tennis Association events.
“It was fun being in Georgia, California and Arizona during that year, but looking back – it did help me with getting looks from colleges – I’m mad I missed a year of high school tennis,” said Balthazor.
When Balthazor was 10, his mom signed him up for tennis lessons.
He was swimming at the time pretty religiously, but during the summer when he was 12, he committed himself to tennis and started playing a ton.
As talented as Balthazor is, he has a younger sister and two younger brothers that could make an even bigger splash than he has.
“Norah is a sophomore here at De Pere who will play next year and the year after, Nicholas is an eighth grader and Nolan is a sixth grader,” Balthazor said. “Nicholas could play at No. 1 singles next year as a freshman. Out of all of us, Nolan could have the most potential. He is currently ranked No. 75 in the country in his age group. He’s invested a lot of time into the sport and started playing when he was like 4.”