The words aren’t always the same, but the question generally is.
“You’re really tall. What sport do you play?” they ask, angling their neck to make eye contact.
“I play tennis,” says West Ranch senior Quincy Walter-Eze.
“Why don’t you play basketball? Your height would be really helpful, don’t you think?”
Walter-Eze is 6-foot-7, 180 pounds and one of the most talented tennis players on the Santa Clarita Valley’s most talented team.
He answers the now-stale question two ways.
First, he teases.
“I don’t play basketball because I would be so good that it wouldn’t be fair,” he says.
This, after all, fits his genial nature. He loves to tease and mess with his younger sister, Symphony, at home and make people laugh at school.
“At school, he’s really funny,” says Walter-Eze’s twin sister, Quinterra, a standout on West Ranch’s girls tennis team. “I think he’s funny, and he likes (teasing) our sister. I can hear her laughing downstairs, and he’s just being silly with her. … He’s really charming at school, and he’s really funny at home.”
And just about everywhere else. At the Foothill League girls tennis finals last season, Walter-Eze could be seen learning the dance moves to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” from freshman Jordyn McBride.
Walter-Eze is rarely without a broad smile.
That’s not to say there’s no truth to his basketball quip. He is 6-7, after all, and when he was younger, he ruled the handball court.
“He was very good at hitting and bouncing the ball and all that stuff,” says Quincy’s dad, Walter. “He’s very good with his hands and very good with his feet. If he wanted to play basketball, I’m sure he could.”
Walter-Eze plays recreational hoops with his friends, but he’s never played competitively.
That leads to his serious answer to the now-stale question: He loves tennis.
Walter, a collegiate tennis player at Brigham Young University, introduced Quincy and Quinterra (Quincy was born first, but barely) to tennis when they were 4. The twins would attend his adult tournaments when the competitions fell on weekends. “He used to take my rackets, him and his sister, and my rackets were always too big,” Walter says. “They’d fool around with it on the court while I was taking a break.”
Quincy grew into the racket and out of almost everything else. Always taller than his peers, his love for tennis grew, too.
“I think (I love) the feeling of hitting a really good ball,” says Walter-Eze, who won the Foothill individual tournament doubles title last year playing with Nikhil Bhumralkar. “It feels really satisfying and working the point and knowing that you have accomplished something, something that you worked hard for is very satisfying.”
Walter-Eze began playing in tournaments. Then as a freshman at West Ranch, he made varsity. Over the last three-plus seasons, he’s played singles, he’s played doubles, he’s helped West Ranch to three straight Foothill League titles and the program’s first-ever CIF-Southern Section semifinal appearance last year.
He covers large swaths of court. He is an intimidating force at the net. He employs a smooth forehand and a powerful backhand.
“I mean he can crank that thing cross-court,” Walter says of his son, who hopes to walk on to a college tennis team next year. “A couple of times when we’re playing, it’s only when people start clapping that I know it came in. Sometimes you wouldn’t even see it.”
What you can see is the impact of Walter-Eze’s choice. And West Ranch tennis is thankful.