If you stop by the tennis courts at old South High after school looking for an open court, you won’t find one. Instead, you will see Springfield boys tennis coach Deanna Brougher trying to keep track of 26 players.
No tennis courts were built at the new high school, so Brougher and her team head across town after school to practice and play matches. Being out of sight from the school has not stopped Brougher from having the most players out she’s had in her six years as coach.
“I’m thrilled to get that many out because when kids don’t see other kids playing it’s hard to get them out,” Brougher said.
The best players of the bunch are freshman Nick Pavlatos, who is playing No. 1, senior Humza Bashir at No. 2 and junior Sam Brougher at No. 3.
While courts across town have not deterred Springfield, it wasn’t until Northeastern got its own courts that Jane Warren’s program began to win.
Warren, in her 19th season, struggled to win matches when the team had to travel 30 minutes to play and practice at Snyder Park. But that began to change when the boosters built six courts at the school in 2002.
“Without those courts I don’t think we would have experienced the success that we have in the last few years,” Warren said.
- Harold Fitch is 67, but that doesn’t keep him off of tennis courts.
Fitch plays regularly and is the head coach at Greenon for the second time. Fitch coached the team for four years in the 1990s, and he was Steve Wilson’s assistant the past three years. When a coach was needed this year, Fitch didn’t hesitate.
The boys team is stacked with juniors plus his nephew Doug McHenry, a sophomore who plays first doubles.
- Getting wins at first singles can be difficult, but Tecumseh coach Sean Bragg said his No. 2 and No.3 players should win enough to help the Arrows be the surprise team.
Alex Eben, a senior, is playing No. 1 for the first time. Brandon Purciful, a junior, is playing No. 2, and Andy Fiorita, a junior is playing No. 3 after playing first doubles last year.
- Kenton Ridge was 17-2 last year and lost five players to graduation. Two doubles teams advanced to districts, but Sherri Bennett says this year’s team is deeper with seniors Noah Icenhour and Zach Sterzenbach as the top singles players.
- OHSAA rules allow for girls to play on the boys tennis team if a girls team is not available or if they are involved in another fall sport.
Kenton Ridge has a girl, Michelle Kulasekera, on its team for the first time because she plays on the girls golf team in the fall. But at Cedarville there are four girls on the team. Senior Mary Heath is good enough to play second or third singles for the Indians. Tim Marvin, a senior, plays No. 1, and coach Stephen Eggleston said Marvin is by far the team’s best player.
ONES TO WATCH
Humza Bashir, Springfield: The senior will play No. 2 on a deep Wildcats team.
Jason Demeter, Northwestern: The senior leads a young team after moving up from doubles to No. 1 singles.
Alex Eben, Tecumseh: The fourth-year senior moves up to No. 1 for the improving Arrows.
Noah Icenhour, Kenton Ridge: The senior moves up to the No. 1 position after reaching districts last year in doubles.
Tim Marvin, Cedarville: The senior is focused on being ready to win some matches at sectionals.
Marshall Miller, Catholic Central: The fourth-year senior has moved into the No. 1 spot this year and has put in more time this offseason with a goal of reaching districts.
Nick Pavlatos, Springfield: The freshman takes over the No. 1 spot.
Austin Porter, Greenon: The junior is playing No. 1 for the Knights in only his second year of tennis.
Zach Sterzenbach, Kenton Ridge: The senior will play No. 2 in the Cougars’ deep lineup.
Thomas Struck, Shawnee: The senior is in his fourth year and has moved up to No. 1 after playing No. 2 last year.
Wayne Wildman, Urbana: The senior moves up to No. 1 this year after playing No. 3 last year.
Andrew Williams, Northeastern: The senior is playing No. 1 again. Last year he reached the sectional quarterfinals and missed a district berth by one match.