XENIA — Of the area high school programs who responded to an informal boys tennis preview query, Xenia Christian looks to have the most experience coming back for the 2014 season.
According to Ambassadors coach Van Holloway, Xenia Christian has its two top singles players returning this season. And they’re both juniors. Jesse Holloway and Rosie Thompson are both back. They had a combined 27-6 record at singles a year ago.
“These two will be playing at first and second singles this season,” Holloway said by email. “Last year, they were at second and third singles. … We’re a young team with only two seniors, so we should improve as the season progresses.”
Xenia Christian had 20 student-athletes go out for boys tennis this season, so they’ll have plenty of depth as well. Holloway says the top 10 players have game experience and should compete for varsity playing time.
Xenia Christian had an 11-6 overall record in 2013. Key matchups for the Ambassadors include an April 15 home match with Metro Buckeye Conference foe Miami Valley, an April 25 road battle with Chaminade Julienne, and then a return trip against defending MBC champion Miami Valley April 29 in Dayton.
JAMESTOWN — According to Rams coach Troy Terrill, “the Greeneview boys tennis team will be replacing six varsity players from last year’s team. Besides the returning player, the others are evenly matched. We are in the process of challenge matches so our line-up is not filled out yet.”
“Our top singles player will be Josh Rogers, the only player back from last year. Second singles will be Tyler Scott and third singles player will be Luke Barker,” he said.
Terrill said his doubles teams starters are yet to be determined, with Josh Jenkins, Warren Vipperman, Tyler McCoy, Jacob McComas, Alex Nixon, Will Irvin and Marcus Gollmer fighting for the four spots. “We will be young and inexperienced this year but, so far, the team has worked hard and been a lot of fun to coach. They like to compete against each other which makes practices enjoyable,” he said.
Junior singles player Jon Long will spearhead the Fairborn Skyhawks’ effort this season. He finished sixth in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s Silver Division tournament last season to earn South Division Special Mention recognition. Junior Long Nguyen and sophomore Nhat Mai, both junior varsity players a year ago, are the likely second and third singles players.
The experienced senior duo of Kristian Schultz and Teddy Morton will be the likely pair at first doubles. Look for Spencer Neuman and Turkish foreign exchange student Gokmen Demirkairan to begin the season at second doubles. Improvement is the name of the game in Fairborn.
“We hope to be competitive with most teams and get some wins to improve on last year’s 5-11 record. We would also like to improve our standings in our League Division. Hope to see our teams games improve over the season and continue to get better. It has been hard to get much done this spring as it has been so cold we haven’t been outside very much and there is only so much to work on in the gym,” Skyhawks coach Terry Miller said.
Fairborn opens the season Tuesday at home against Piqua. Miller says the Skyhawks should be competitive with the Indians, and expects close battles with Carlisle, Xenia Christian, West Carrollton and in the season finale against Xenia.
The Skyhawks will also field a full junior varsity squad this year.
The Indians field another area team with plenty of youth on its roster. Jared Gillespie is the lone returning player from last season’s 6-9 squad with any varsity experience. The team will have plenty of depth: coach Stephen Eggleston reports that there are nine boys and seven girls on the team this season.
We have alot of new players and one’s that have never played varsity before but everyone is excited for the season and to keep improving on their tennis skills,” Gillespie said. “All of the matches are important for us since we have many young players and they will learn something new from every match and hopefully improve throughout the season.
Wyatt Fox returns as the Buccaneers’ only senior for the 2014 campaign. He and sophomores Jason Jones and Conner Sell are the only players with any high school match experience for Xenia, which failed to win a match last season.
First-year coach Steve Cukovecki is looking to make this a fun season for his youthful team.
“Expectations for the 2014 tennis season is for the kids to have fun and for it to be a great experience for them,” he said. “…I have set the bar high for the kids. I challenge them each day for them to make themselves better. We have a chance to be really good, if we take care of our business.”
Cukovecki listed GWOC South matchups at Miamisburg (April 15), versus Lebanon (April 17), at West Carrollton (April 22), at division champ Springboro (April 29) and home for the season ender May 6 with Fairborn as his team’s keys.
Sophomore Jason Jones and freshmen Chris Brodsky, Zane Cukovecki, Kenneth Klontz, Mat Myers, Chris Koehler and Dorien Morris should also see match action this season.
(As of presstime, Beavercreek, Bellbrook, Carroll, Greenon and Yellow Springs coaches did not reply.)
NOTABLE AREA ATHLETES
— Trent Hayden, Senior, Beavercreek: GWOC Central Athlete of the Year….. First-team GWOC Central. … 4th in GWOC Gold singles tourney. Sectional runner up. 19-8 overall.
— Brandon Chong, sophomore/Damennick Henry, senior Beavercreek doubles: Second team GWOC Central. 15-4.
— Jon Long, junior, Fairborn singles: Special Mention GWOC South. … 6th in GWOC Silver singles tourney. 7-8
— Ryan Holland, senior, Xenia singles: Special Mention GWOC South
— Kyle Burkholder, senior/ Doug McHenry, junior, Greenon doubles: Central Buckeye Conference Honorable Mention.
— Wyatt Heinz, Bellbrook senior: part of sectional runner-up doubles team (with graduated senior Mike Dellon).