Tennis has long been a passion for Erik Buetow and has been instrumental in shaping his future career path.
However, that path will not include tennis for Buetow, who went 29-2 for Bakersfield Christian in his senior season and has been named the BVarsity All-Area Boys Tennis Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Buetow is headed to UCLA this fall where he will pursue a pre-med education in hopes of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
“As much as I love tennis, and it’s going to be weird not playing (competitively)," Buetow said. "I’m looking ahead at doing something I’m going to do the rest of my life. It’s about priorities.”
Buetow said he has thought about being a doctor since the seventh grade and injuries in tennis and other sports only reinforced his desire to be a surgeon.
“I’ve had numerous injuries throughout my career playing sports, a broken wrist, broken fingers, shoulder surgery, all kinds of stuff,” he said. “Having orthopedic surgeons help me out and get right, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I can stay around sports by helping people get back on the field or court.”
Buetow moved from Ohio to Bakersfield just before his sophomore season as his father, John, became president of BCHS.
During his three years at BCHS Buetow never lost a match to another Kern County player as he went 82-7 overall.
“That sophomore year when we won Valley, that was awesome,” Buetow said. “It was the first year after moving from Ohio and to come here and have success was awesome. We didn’t even have a tennis team at my old school.”
Buetow found more individual success his last two seasons, reaching the Central Sectional championships where he finished as runner-up both times. This year he lost to freshman Ethan Quinn of Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial, one of the top-rated prep players in the nation, 7-5, 6-4.
“It’s going to sound funny, but the last match I played,” Buetow replied when asked about his favorite moments from his prep career. “Even though it didn’t end the way I wanted it was an unbelievable match in terms of how he played and how I played.
“It was special to me because it was the end of high school and real competitive tennis for me. It was really a special match for me and a ton of fun.”
John Buetow watched his son play the past three seasons, but had a different role this season as he took over the coaching duties.
“It was a great experience,” the elder Buetow said. “We had a very successful year and an exceptionally fun year and Erik was a key piece of that.
“Watching as the matches counted down as his coach, and also his dad, it was hard to watch toward the end knowing they could be the last matches he played. College tennis could have been in his future, but he chose otherwise and I’m very proud of him.”