Knights leader is state's top coach

Knights leader is state's top coach

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Knights leader is state's top coach

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When asked about the success of the Northeastern High School boys tennis team, Mike Esposito defers all the credit elsewhere: parents, families, assistant coaches.

But there is no doubt about his role, too.

Esposito was named boys tennis Coach of the Year by the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association earlier this month.

For close to seven years, Esposito has built the Northeastern High School tennis teams to an elite level, which culminated last fall when the Knights boys team became the first Northeastern team in any sport to advance to state.

“It’s all about the program. It’s all about the kids. Without having all of that, there’s no awards for anybody,” Esposito said.

“… I think it’s nice. I’m glad people recognize the school.”

Esposito was also District IV Coach of the Year the last three years, which made him a finalist for Coach of the Year.

With an enrollment of 423, Northeastern became the smallest public school to ever advance to the state finals in boys tennis.

The Knights finished the season ranked No. 10 in the IHSTeCA Top 25 poll and were in the top 15 for the majority of the season. “I don’t think people realize, being in a non-class sport, how hard it is to be ranked in the top 25,” Esposito said. “Look at the IBCA (Indiana Basketball Coaches Association) poll, the Sagarin ratings, what 2A public school is in there? … It’s just a difficult, difficult task.”

The Knights have won four straight sectional titles, two regionals, a semistate and three Tri-Eastern Conference championships.

Jacob Rankin and Grant Esposito were second-team all-state singles players, while Craig Dingwerth and Charlie Webster were second-team all-state in doubles.

“To me that’s almost unbelievable,” coach Esposito said. “Only three other teams in the state did that (had four all-state selections): Carmel, North Central and Park Tudor — you’re talking about No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, and then us.”

Esposito coached basketball at Bradford and Tri-Village high schools in Ohio, before spending time with the Union City tennis teams.

He is entering his seventh spring with the girls program and has completed six with the boys.

“It’s a team award, our parents and kids, and it’s a collective thing, too,” Esposito said. “… I think it does span over the six years of boys and girls success.”

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