The only place to go is up in the Greater Catholic League-South for Moeller High School’s tennis team as St. Xavier has had a stranglehold on the championship dating back to when The Beatles were still playing concerts (1965).
The Crusaders tied for second in the league at 3-3 and were 14-5 overall last season under coach Alex Thompson. They have had four consecutive winning seasons.
The roster is young with five juniors and two sophomores. Juniors Michael Tepe, Kelley Peter and Alec Hoelker are returning starters along with sophomore Max Berky. Sophomore Michael Keyser also should figure into the equation and juniors Joe Burns and Justin Cashman are also on the squad.
Tepe was GCL-South second team in singles in 2014, going 4-2 in the league and 17-3 overall in second singles. Berky played third singles and was 4-2 in the league and 12-6 overall. Peter, Keyser and Hoelker were mainly doubles players a year ago.
“This is a very fun, young team who really wants to win,” Thompson said. “They have been putting in a ton of work that will hopefully pay off.”
Moeller returns after their spring break to take on Springfield April 13.
Marc Baverman moved from junior varsity to varsity head coach this season at Madeira. Baverman said the Mustangs return the entire team from the year before. He said that, so far, the competition of a deep roster has served them well. What may be even more beneficial is the last year’s lack of success and the bitter taste left in their mouth.
“Last year was disappointing,” Baverman said. “We had a couple injuries and were short on bodies. I think we were 7-7 and lost all of our league matches. I’m optimistic we’ll be a little better this year with strength in numbers and a lot of seniors.”
Senior Travis Freytag, a three-sport athlete at Madeira (also plays basketball and golf), plays first singles and he’s a four-year varsity tennis player. Baverman admitted the rest of the singles slots are open to rotation, but expect sophomore Peter Baldan and senior Jake Lorusso in the mix.
The first doubles team is an experienced duo in seniors Zach Zeisler and Jake Harrington. At second doubles, there’s four guys competing for two spots, and all four can help out if needed. They are seniors Robby Elkin, Ethan Fitter, Will Thaw and freshman Jenner Kane.
“I’m excited about the competition we’ve had, I think it’s made them better,” Baverman said. “Having so many guys around the same skill level is gonna help them when we get into match play.”
Baverman would like to see a little more consistency, saying “there’s flashes where they’re looking really good but it’s too up and down.”
After winning four consecutive Cincinnati Hills League championships, the Indian Hill High School boys tennis team had another successful season in 2014, but finished second to a veteran Wyoming team.
Coach Marc Young is back in 2015 with a lineup led by junior Alex Warstler, a state tournament qualifier in his freshman and sophomore years. Warstler is a nationally ranked, year-round competitor.
Also back for the Braves is the veteran doubles team of senior Graydon Cowan and junior Rohit Musti. Expected to contribute as sophomores are Milan Bhandari, Christiano Lima and Pablo Guzman and adding depth is junior Durham Colohan and sophomore Mrinal Singh.
Newcomers are freshman Andrew Pregel and senior transfer Ryan Snyder. Pregel is a ranked 16 and under player in the USTA Midwest.
Indian Hill was a quarter-finalist in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament in 2014 and Young would like to surpass that and have state representation in singles and doubles this spring.
“We have a very demanding schedule, facing great teams from Cincinnati, from central and northern Ohio and from Louisville,” Young said. “If these Braves can come together as a team, I believe we can compete with the best. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Ahead for Indian Hill is a home match with Walnut Hills April 10.
Cincinnati Country Day won the Division II singles, doubles and team state titles last year.
Asher Hirsch, then a junior, picked up his second consecutive singles title and the pairing of Patrick Wildman and Kevin Yu won the doubles title.
Much of the Indians’ roster, including Hirsch, Shaheel Mitra, Vishaal Nalagatla, Will Cohen, Chase Tholke, Leonard Behrens and Yu, returns for a shot at defending those titles.
“We have a lot to live up to this year,” CCD head coach Matt Dektas said. “It’s going to be a tall order.”
Sophomore J.J. Wolf, who lost to Hirsch in the state final, is a bit of a wild card this season.
He won the boys’ 16-and-under title at the U.S. Tennis Association Winter National Championships Jan. 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz., and has been playing in California in the International Spring Championship with the International Tennis Federation.
Wolf has until April 13 to decide if he will play for his school. That’s the OHSAA’s cut-off date for non-interscholastic competition.
If he does suit up for the Indians, Wolf and Hirsch become contenders to meet in the state final again this season.
“Having them both on the same team is a good problem to have,” Dektas said.
The coach also sees some of his players who have been role players in years past stepping to the forefront, adding that he expects Yu to be “a major contributor again this season.”
Players to watch
Alex Warstler, junior, Indian Hill: Two-time state qualifer in singles and nationally-ranked.
Andrew Pregel, freshman, Indian Hill: Nationally-ranked 16 and under newcomer.
Michael Tepe, junior, Moeller. Returning singles player that made GCL-South second team.
Madeira senior Travis Freytag: Four-year varsity tennis starter in singles, also plays basketball and golf.