Morton junior Barik Olden is a 6-foot-5 tennis player who qualified for the state tournament as a freshman with doubles partner Sam Taluc. He also is an all-Mid-Illini Conference basketball player for the Potters.

Journal Star reporter Johnny Campos had five questions for Olden:

1. After qualifying for state two years ago, how disappointing was it not to make a return trip last season?

It was very disappointing not to make it back to state. The match that eliminated us was very close, and I feel like we could have won, but we came up short at the very end. That loss has motivated Sam (my doubles partner) and me to work that much harder this season to get back to state.

2. How much of an advantage is it being 6-foot-5? Do you think it is sometimes intimidating to your opponents?

My height definitely helps at the net. My length provides an intimidation factor and allows me to reach balls some others cannot. It also makes it harder for the other team to hit around me. 

3. Does playing basketball play a big part in keeping your fit and preparing for the tennis season?

Basketball keeps me in great shape, which allows me to transition to tennis without having to worry about the preseason conditioning most other tennis players are having to do. 

4. Of all the sports you play, which is your favorite, and why?

I enjoy every sport I play, because each one is different and allows me to improve in aspects the others do not. The electric atmosphere during high school basketball games and the impact the team has on the community are both special to be a part of each season. Tennis is the only individual sport I play, and the opportunity to work one on one with my doubles partner and my coaches is one of the things I enjoy most about it. 

5. Do you come from an athletic family? What sports do some of them play, and how big of an influence have they been for you?

My parents and siblings are all very athletic and competitive. My sister, Phoebe (a sophomore at Morton), plays volleyball. My younger brothers, Asa and Boaz, play soccer and basketball. My mom played college volleyball at Illinois Central College and Illinois-Springfield. My dad’s high school basketball team at Mount Pulaski got second at the IHSA state tournament his senior year (1984). We all love to compete and play different sports and games together. They have all been great fans and supporters and helped me achieve success through the years.