Should any of his fellow Division II tennis district qualifiers ask Andrew Conover where he’s from, the Greenon senior is prepared to give them a geographical lesson. And a history, one, too.
Conover – when discussing his match for today’s district tournament – proudly rattled off a host of athletic accomplishments his Knights classmates have achieved this season. The boys soccer, girls bowling, baseball and boys tennis teams all won Ohio Heritage Conference titles. The football and wrestling teams had their most successful seasons in years. And the girls track team boasts one of the state’s top sprinters.
“It’s been a really successful year overall for Greenon,” said Conover, who helped the tennis team win its first league title two decades. “Winning the league title was incredible. This wave of kids coming through is really putting Greenon on the map. It’s really exciting.”
The Knights might not be done yet.
Conover is two wins away from qualifying for the D-II state tournament. Conover, seeded No. 4 from the Troy sectional, opens against Cincinnati Country Day senior Manav Midha, the No. 1 seed from the Cincinnati sectional.
Northwestern senior Reilly Smith and Yellow Springs senior Forrest Rowe also compete in the singles tournament. Tecumseh seniors Christian Hunt and Scot Sinkhorn qualified in the D-I doubles bracket. All matches are at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
“I have no expectations because the competition is amazing. I’m just going to have fun and enjoy it,” Conover said. “Honestly, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of nerves. I think it’s going to be a fun experience and one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Conover said he decided to try tennis after seeing some classmates playing his sophomore year.
“I thought that looked pretty fun. I was pretty good at ping-pong so I thought I’d give it a try,” Conover said.
“The first time I went out and played actual tennis with my friends, I was trying to swing like I was hitting a ping-pong ball. Just literally tapping it and it went two feet. I thought, well that’s not going to work.”
But Conover did. He put in time during the summer and worked with coaches and teammates. The end result was a 17-0 record during the regular season at No. 1 singles for Greenon.
“Andrew’s natural athletic ability and determination are what make him a good player,” Greenon coach Kim McNeil said. “He is able to dig deep and grind out points when needed but also go on the offensive and make his way to the net. He has a versatile game. He is a hard working kid. He fell in love with tennis and that is what drives him to be the best competitor he can. He worked hard in the off season to get better, while also being a three-sport athlete.”
Greenon went 14-3 overall and won the OHC at 8-0. The Knights swept their OHC opponents, winning every match for a 40-0 record in first, second, third singles and first and second doubles.
At district, the four semifinalists automatically qualify for next week’s state championships. The first two rounds are today with the semis and finals at the Lindner Center on Saturday.
“It’s really been unbelievable to have such good coaches and make it this far,” Conover said. “I’ve played a lot of tough matches this year. I’m just going to try and grind one out and see what happens from there.”
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