COVENTRY TWP. If a team’s growth from where it begins a season to where it finishes said season is the measure of success, then the Coventry tennis team has to go down as winners.
The Comets have long battled the numbers game with their roster and returning letterwinners, the logistics game - no home matches due to their home court not having enough space to host opponents - and an experience disadvantage against many foes, but this season showed that in spite of those obstacles, plenty of progress has been made.
“We showed a lot of growth through out the season. Everyone improved and got better each and every match,” head coach Aaron Rose said. “It was definitely a positive going into sectionals, but it can never prepare you for (who) you might actually play.”
In terms of raw numbers, the team’s 10-8 overall record stands out as the most quantifiable means of showing how far the program has come. Rose noted that it’s “been a while since we have won this many matches,” so having double-digit wins is a meaningful milestone. The roster is a mix of players from every grade, heavy on new faces but as the season proved, also with players who have a bright future on the court.
At the top of the list, senior Ben Woodill emerged as the Comets’ veteran leader, placing fourth in second singles at the Portage Trail Conference tournament. Woodall junior Alan Byers formed a solid 1-2 punch at first and second singles, with Byers placing fifth at the league tournament.
Woodill’s win in his first match at the PTC event was one that tested the senior, pushing him mentally and physically and the win left his teammates and coach impressed at his determination.
“His first match lasted almost three hours and it could have when either way,” Rose said. “He battled back and forth with the guy from Field and was exhausted afterwords. It was a huge win and gave him a chance to take third place.’
Woodill emerged from the tournament with a 9-9 record, the best singles competition mark on the team. Byers went 4-14 at first singles, while freshman Carter Derrig posted a 8-10 mark at third singles and fifth-place finish at the league tournament.
Not to be outdone, the squad’s doubles teams both posted winning records on the year, with each finishing fourth in the PTC tournament.
Juniors Jacob Gula and Jacob Lehman’s 11-7 record made them the second-winningest unit on the team, behind only sophomores Josh Watson and Graham Evans, whose 13-5 mark offered not only proof of their abilities in the present, but hope for the future as well.
Rose, who also coaches soccer and bowling, has been with the tennis program through some lean seasons, so seeing the growth that occurred over the course of the season was an encouraging experience.
"The real highlight of the season was winning 10 matches and having an over all winning season,” Rose said.
Given that Coventry began the season without a wealth of varsity experience for much of its roster, the season’s end point is a long way from where the campaign originated. The logistical challenges remain for what has become a group of tennis nomads when it comes to matches, but the results certify that those challenges can be overcome.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB