By Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — The month of August means school is back in session, the sun is shining and boys tennis season is back. The 2013 season is sure to bring highly competitive matches from the best southwestern Indiana has to offer.
As a team in 2012, the Hatchets lost to Vincennes Rivet in the finals of the sectional. Washington coach Jason Johnston will welcome three seniors, who played varsity last year.
“The good thing is we have some experience coming back with the three seniors,” Johnston said. “We only have a couple new guys that are trying to get their way onto varsity, but I think we have a pretty solid lineup. You never know until the matches start.”
All things have gone to plan in the first week of the season for Washington. The Hatchets won their first two matches against Sullivan and Barr-Reeve, both in 5-0 decisions. Washington finished in first in the eight-team Washington Invitational Saturday morning.
Sophomore Lucas Miller will anchor the lineup for the second straight year at No. 1 singles, followed by Corey Thompson at No. 2 singles and Jacob Luttrell at the third singles position. Jake Bedwell-Tyler Stoll will start at No. 1 doubles, and No. 2 doubles will be John Harner-Michael Ramsey.
“Our singles lineup is going to pretty tough to beat,” Johnston said. “Jake Bedwell played JV mainly last year, so he has to step it up this year. This will be Michael’s (Ramsey) first time on varsity as well.”
Johnston said Miller’s ability to set the tone for the rest of the team will be important this season as his play continues to evolve.
“Last year Lucas (Miller) had a lot of match play under his belt, but he went through the bumps of the road last season in playing higher quality guys,” Johnston said. “He’s put the work in this offseason — his serve has improved tremendously and will make a huge difference. He’s controlling the ball a lot better, I think he’ll end points sooner.”
The Loogootee boys tennis team and coach Rick Graves are jumping right into a season unlike any it has ever faced. The Lions will see a new player at every position on the varsity level in 2013. Graves, who has seen it all in his illustrious career in Loogootee. Graves has earned 24 sectional titles (17 boys, 7 girls) and 15 Blue Chip championships to his credit, and a career record of 444-157. The Lions are coming off a 2012 season, which saw Loogootee finish with a split Blue Chip championship and a 16-4 record.
It’s been a rough start for Loogootee with the inexperience Graves is dealing with. The Lions have also registered losses to Vincennes Rivet, Bloomfield and Evansville North — all three losses came on 4-1 decisions. Junior Gabe Nolley will make the transition from No. 1 doubles in 2012 to No. 1 singles in 2013.
“Right now I don’t see him having a lot of difficulty in that transition,” Graves said. “I like the fact that he’s played doubles for a couple of years and has been able to move into a singles spot. I think doubles can really help your singles game.”
Senior Tylan Norris will be at No. 2 singles and junior Jayce Wagoner will be at the third singles spot. Juniors Hayden Bell-Jordan Berry will play at No. 1 doubles and at No. 2 doubles Graves has Caleb Dant-Wyatt Wade.
“We have so many spots that we have to fill this year — it’s a matter of seeing who will work well together in those doubles spots,” Graves said. “
The North Daviess boys tennis team ended 2012 with a loss in the finals of the sectional to Bloomfield on its home court and then lost four seniors to graduation. The loss of so much varsity experience created a large hole to fill for Cougars coach Brock Higgins.
After losing their top two singles players, senior Braden Lawyer will move up to No. 1 singles after playing at No. 3 singles last season. Trevor Wikle will be at No. 2 singles after playing at No. 1 doubles last season. The third singles player will be Trent Bowman, and Tommy Newby-Brian Lawyer will be at No. 1 singles. Rounding out the lineup at No. 2 doubles will be Tanner Gray-Ethan Hawk, who are both freshman.
“Braden (Lawyer) is in his third year in the Cougars program,” Higgins said. “He’s a real good kid and a smart player. He’s got big shoes to fill in the jump from No. 3 singles to No. 1 singles, but he’s a smart enough kid to figure it out. Trevor Wikle played some No. 3 singles last year, and he’s improved quite a bit from last season. Trent Bowman played JV last year, and he played some No. 2 doubles on the varsity level last season. He (Wikle) seems to have a knack for singles, he plays pretty well there and hopefully he continues to improve.
“Both Tommy Newby and Brian Lawyer played JV last year — neither has any varsity experience and they have played together pretty well. Hopefully they continue to do that, because we’re going to need them at No. 1 doubles. Tanner Gray and Ethan Hawk are both freshmen, they’ve got a lot of potential and they really enjoy it. They communicate pretty well together.”
With such a young lineup, Higgins is keeping expectations in check. He is just hopeful that the young Cougars can improve with each practice and matches.
“Our main focus for this season will be to improve as much as we can to get ready for the end of the season and the sectional,” Higgins said. “Hopefully by the end of the season we’ve made a lot of improvements.”
The Barr-Reeve boys tennis team is aiming for a good year after a first round loss in the sectional to Loogootee last season. The Vikings will start a new era with new head coach Tim Swartzentruber leading the charge. The Vikings welcome back the full team from last year after not losing any players to graduation.
At No. 1 singles, the Vikings will have Trevor Steiner, who Swartzentruber calls “A good leader.”
At No. 2 singles the Vikings have junior John Cangelosi and No. 3 singles will be Tyler Bennett. In doubles, Zach Graber-Clay Cummings will be at No. 1 doubles and Jeff Parsons-Colten Lottes will be at No. 2 doubles.
With so much varsity experience returning for the Vikings, Swartzentruber is optimistic about what his team can accomplish in this first year as coach.
“I’d like to have a winning season, that’d be good,” Swartzentruber said. “We said as a team goal we’d like to win a sectional, that will obviously be a difficult task. Loogootee is always a good team, Northeast Dubois has a nice team this year, but that’s what we’re striving for, and we’ll see how it comes out in the end.”