While many football players choose to either wrestle, play basketball or compete in track and field to keep in shape, Allatoona’s Daniel Scotto chose another outlet.
He went to the tennis court.
For the 6-foot, 230-pound Scotto, the similarity between football and tennis are the “dedication, passion and the hard work you have to put in.”
Scotto was first introduced to tennis when his father, who also grew up playing tennis, encouraged him to give it a shot when he was 8. Once he started hitting balls, Scotto started loving the sport.
He said he likes tennis because of the individuality of the sport. When playing singles, the outcome of his matches is his responsibility. When playing doubles, teamwork is involved, which means he and his partner have to learn one another’s tendencies and formulate strategies.
Being a part of a team was why Scotto loved football so much. The defensive lineman and his teammates spend so much time together during the preseason, regular season, postseason and offseason workouts.
While he may be a more experienced tennis player, Scotto would choose football if he had a preference because of the team atmosphere it provides.
“Even though I’ve played tennis longer, and I’m better at it,” Scotto said, “there is a large family side to football that some people don’t see, and that is the thing that pulls football ahead.”
While Scotto had a satisfying end to his football career by helping lead the Buccaneers to the Class AAAAAA state championship game, there was no proper end to the tennis season.
Allatoona was in a three-way tie for the Region 6AAAAAA lead when things came to an end because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Scotto and partner Nathan Willingham were undefeated with a 5-0 record at No. 1 doubles.
Scotto said he was in the middle of a marathon three-setter during a match with Sequoyah when he heard schools were closing. His first concern was the status of a tennis tournament in LaGrange, in which he was looking forward to playing.
“I ended up winning the match in a third (set) 6-4, and when I came off the court, my coach tells me that LaGrange was canceled,” said Scotto, who was a team captain. “What hurt me the most was that both my coach and I thought that we could win it. He’d showed me the bracket we were in, and it looked fairly easy compared to the year prior.”
The news that the season would be canceled stung just as much because Scotto said Allatoona had a great shot at making a deep state playoff run.
Scotto said he will attend Kennesaw State in the fall to study mechanical engineering. He plans to continue playing tennis, but on a recreational level.