COSHOCTON – With its win against Berlin Hiland on May 13, the Coshocton tennis team finished the regular season undefeated for the second time in program history.
But it isn’t just their talent that has allowed them to accomplish that feat; it also is their dedication, head coach Kevin Kittell said.
“There is a lot of time that is put in outside of the season, and of course once the season hits, they are focused on tennis,” Kittell said.
Kittell has driven by the high school’s tennis courts some nights and seen the team playing, even after a match earlier that day.
“They work hard. There are very dedicated, and they want to get better,” Kittell said.
They haven’t just made themselves better; they also have made the Coshocton tennis program better. The seniors on the team — Jim and Sam Magness, Cameron Wiandt, Thomas Gauerke and Mitchell Milliken — have combined for a 62-8 record in their high school careers.
“That says a lot. The impact they have had on the program is huge,” Kittell said. “I don’t think they fully realize that yet. This is my fifteenth season coaching, and I can look back and see the pockets of success. To be that strong in the eastern district, for that time frame, I know that I’ve never had a team like that, and I don’t think I ever will again.”
While Kittell may not have had a team quite like this one, he was the coach the last time the Redskins went undefeated. That was the 2009 season, and comparatively, in terms of tennis, this year’s team is right on track with them, Kittell said.
“We had quality tennis players from top to bottom on the roster,” Kittell said. “If we could take those two teams in a virtual reality and put them off against each other, it would be really interesting to see how they would face-off. They are very close.”
Although it is not yet possible to travel back in time, it is possible to look to the future, and what is in the future for this Redskins team is the district tournament.
All five seniors will travel and compete in the districts Saturday morning in Athens, but Jim and Sam Magness will have some extra experience. The pair, who are twins and doubles partners, competed at the state tournament last year.
Although they lost in the first round, they gained some valuable knowledge, Sam Magness said.
“(A year of experience) is huge because you are kind of overwhelmed when you get there the first time. Now we know what to expect and know what it’s like. Having another year of experience always helps,” he said.
A good showing on Saturday is important for the brothers because it will give them a higher seed going forward.
“This is a really big weekend for me. I want to go out and finish my sports career in a good way,” Jim Magness said. “Sports has meant a lot to me throughout my high school career. … I want to try to win the whole district so we can get a better seed (at state.)”
His brother echoed his statement.
But Kittell just wants to see his team focus on what has gotten them to this point.
“I know they will be thinking about the next match, but you can’t do that. You have to focus on where you are at,” Kittell said. “My goal as a coach is to keep the mentality that the court is green and blue, the net is the same height, and it doesn’t matter where you are at, or who you are playing. You still have to hit the ball.”
Now that their goals of an undefeated season and winning the East Central Ohio League are complete, the Redskins have their eyes set on the postseason.
“You just have to keep practicing and working hard knowing that anything can happen in districts,” Sam Magness said. “You have to be ready and bring your A-game every match.”