Athenians look to build with returning core
Last season, the Crawfordsville boys’ tennis team was full of new faces and inexperienced varsity players. Now, four top starters return with the hopes of returning to winning form.
“Our goal for this season is to keep a winning mindset,” second year coach Craig Brainard said. “This doesn’t mean we will win every match, but it’s a commitment to learn and grow as individuals and a team.”
The Athenians No. 1 singles player and junior Austin Motz returns, along with No. 2 singles player Thatcher Gambel. On the doubles side, Zach Fichter and Ziair Morgan return, and they will play No. 1 doubles.
Brainard expects freshmen James Murphy (No. 3 singles) and Thomas Bowling and James Novak (No. 2 doubles) to fill out the rest of the lineup.
Brainard hopes to see the younger players lean on the veterans.
“Our whole team is pretty young,” he said. “We have one senior, but for the veteran guys, I expect them to be leaders in their attitude more than anything. If an upperclassman starts making excuses and getting down on himself, the younger guys will remember that and think it is okay. I will rely on the older players to show the younger players how to forgive themselves and move on with confidence.”
Mustangs will go for 4 in a row
The Fountain Central boys tennis team has been on a tear.
Last season the Mustangs posted an 11-4 record and won a third-straight sectional crown. This fall, all but one starter returns and the goals remain the same.
“We would like to improve upon our 11-4 record last season, capture a WRC (Wabash River Conference) crown, sectional crown, and win a round at regional,” longtime coach Chris Webb said.
Defending Wabash River Conference singles champion Carson Eberly returns for his senior season at No. 1 singles, while Cody Linville and Brent Myers return as well. Denton Otero graduated, but his No. 1 doubles partner Jacob Keeling is back for his senior season. No. 2 doubles team Sawyer Keeling and CJ Yager return as well, along with Carter Merryman, who spent some time playing doubles last year along with No. 1 JV singles.
Webb also expects freshmen Brayden Prickett, Koby Wolf, and Wes Jackson to make an impact this season.
In 2019, Covington pushed the Mustangs in each of their three matchups, so Webb knows another sectional title won’t come easy, but it has become an expectation.
“This team has the opportunity win a fourth sectional title in a row,” Webb said. “That means that our seniors could finish their careers winning four titles.”
Fountain Central last won four titles in a row during the 1994-97 seasons.
Eberly, Linville, Myers, Jacob and Sawyer Keeling, and Yager are all seniors.
Chargers seeking improvement for 2020
LINDEN — Under the direction of new coach Rick Holtz, the North Montgomery boys’ tennis team is hoping to see improvement this fall.
“I have high expectations for the guys this season,” Holtz said. “We did not have the best season last year, but that’s in the past. I told the guys that I want them to have the goal to be competitive at the county and conference levels and work toward winning the sectional now.”
With Hunter Kashon the only returning senior, the Chargers will be young for a second straight season.
“We have a lot of youth on our team,” Holtz added. “With only one senior, it is up to the freshmen and sophomores to step up and accept roles that typically a junior or senior would be in — especially at the beginning of the season.”
Holtz expects freshmen Alex Chapman and Nate McCoy to contribute this season, along with Will McKinniss and Hayden Turner teaming up for the No. 1 doubles spot.
“We want to build a strong foundation for the team and build upon it,” Holtz said. “Our focus from day one was being fundamentally sound. Each day we try to be a little better than the day before.”
Defending sectional champ Mounties will have new look
NEW MARKET — The 2019 Southmont boys’ tennis team won a sectional title for the first time since 1991.
While most of that team is gone, the Mounties will have a new look, but the winning flavor remains.
“We have several returning players that have worked pretty hard to improve,” Southmont coach Natham Poynter said. Our team will have a new look.”
Adam Cox and Micah Korhorn return for Southmont.
The COVID-19 pandemic has especially made the transition tough for the junior-varsity players that will make the jump up to varsity this season.
“The biggest challenge because of the Covid was not being allowed to get out and hit for over half the summer,” Poynter said. “And then being very limited on the length of time we can hit now, but the kids are working hard and are happy to be out competing.”
As the Mounties look to defend their county and sectional crowns, Poynter is confident this team can have similar success.
“We have a few that need to learn to relax and play hard, and good things will happen,” he said.