Polk County junior Banks Barber is in his third season playing No. 1 singles for the Wolverines

Dual-sport athletes are not uncommon at Polk County High School.

Banks Barber’s chosen sports are a bit of a rarity, though.

The Wolverines No. 1-seeded tennis player and two-time regional qualifier is also the top member of the school’s club bass fishing team, a team started by his brother, Chan, and coached by his father, Chauncey.

One pursuit helps the other, sometimes in unexpected ways.

“Tennis helps the mental game for fishing,” he said. “Tennis is all mental. Everything about it is mental. It’s focus, intensity, practicing. It’s you versus somebody else, but in reality it’s you against yourself. It’s all mental.”

That mentality includes patience. It’s vital for fishing, and it’s how Banks approaches tennis as well.

“I’m just one of those players who kind of stays patient,” he said. “I stay at the back and just always try to get my shots in. If we’re rallying, I’ll go for a nice, easy angled shot so I can hit an easy winner or force him into a mistake.”

Banks’ love for tennis came about at a young age when he was gifted a racquet. His brother got one, too, and soon the born competitors were off and running.

“This is the only sport I’ve ever been better than my brother in,” Banks said. “I just want to beat my brother at everything. We played a little bit off and on, and I just signed up for tennis when I got to ninth grade. I got number one seed, and I’ve been that ever since.”

Those days with his brother stoked an already fierce competitive fire.

“I hate losing,” Banks said. “I hate losing more than I love winning. He’s never played competitively, but he’s pretty good. He’s athletic.”

With his spot at No. 1 comes a guaranteed matchup against the opponent’s best player, every time out. That’s something Banks loves.

“It’s amazing just knowing you’re about to go out there and play against the other team’s best player,” he said. “You always want to beat the best, because you always want to be the best. “

Polk County coach Tracy Becker said Banks’ attitude and competitiveness filter through the entire team.

“As a coach, it’s nice to have your No. 1 so dedicated and so competitive,” Becker said. “It does kind of trickle down to the other players. Most of them are like Banks in that aspect, though. They don’t like to lose. It helps.

“He never wants to play down or not play in that spot. That’s his spot, and he enjoys it, and he does really well there.”

He does pretty well with the fishing team, too.

“My brother started it, and now I’ve just taken over it,” Banks said. “Now I fish competitive bass tournaments with 200-plus boats in every one of them, all the way from Tennessee, Michigan, Alabama. It’s mostly in South Carolina, though.”

That, too, is something he shares with his brother.

“My uncle took me fishing here and there,” he said. “I always just fished around ponds. During Covid my dad bought us a Basstracker, and ever since then me and my brother have just been straight-on fishing.”

Polk County’s Banks Barber, right, talks about his team’s effort as fishing partner Aaron Morrison watches (photo courtesy Polk Bass Team)