It’s been an eventful month for Ryle math teacher and boys’ tennis coach Amy Bates. Her students have stirred her competitive side, from the classroom to the courts, and all the way to Chicago.
Bates has guided the tennis team to an 8-3 record and watched two of her seniors, state-qualifying doubles players David Geis and Drake Hudak, sign to play tennis at Thomas More College.
Bates was on the road Saturday. She was with the Ryle math team at MathCON 2015, a national competition for students grades 5-12 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the Raiders took third place.
She rejoins the tennis teams this week. There are a program-record 31 boys, including several newcomers, under her direction, all of them eager to follow in the path of Geis and Hudak while pulling as one for the Raiders.
“I’ve got kids who love to play, but it’s been raining,” Bates said. “We’re in the Coaches Invitational, and we had rain, so that’s supposed to wrap up Tuesday. We’ve got some big matches coming up and then we have to get ready for the regional.”
Bates said tennis is more popular than ever at the Union school because of her players’ enthusiasm for the sport, and each other, and Ryle’s willingness to spotlight the players.
“We make daily announcements about the tennis teams. So, they get a lot of exposure at the school, and I think kids want to play,” Bates said. “We have some very good players and good leadership.”
Geis, Hudak and fellow seniors Alan Groathouse, Andrew Howe, Corey James, Nicholas Jones, Davis Mitchell, Brian Plowdrey, Phillip Spiritoso and Alex Warner have been key to the team’s success, the coach said, because they want to play every day.
Sophomores Max O’Leary and Jonah Shields are the Raiders’ 1-2 singles players. Spiritoso mans the No. 3 spot. Joining Geis and Hudak is the No. 2 doubles team of Howe and Joey Sciarra, a junior. Geis and Hudak advanced to the second round of last year’s state tournament.
When freshman Kurtis Kalbaugh and eighth-grader Alex Aaron had to move up to No. 2 doubles, they won. “”They played really well,” Bates said.
Kalbaugh’s sister, senior Quinn Kalbaugh, is the No. 2 singles player in her fifth year for the Ryle girls’ tennis team. The girls are led by Stephen Collins, another Ryle coach who knows a thing or two about multitasking. Collins is a Ryle social studies teacher. He also coaches the boys’ soccer team and handles announcing duties during the basketball season. He has the girls’ tennis team enjoying a 10-4 start.
“We’re a senior-led team. I’ve got five seniors in the starting lineup,” Collins said. “We beat Highlands for the first time in school history, 3-2, two weeks ago. The girls are playing great.”
Carley Lucas is Ryle’s No. 1 singles player for the third straight year. Now in her sixth season, she follows cousin Maddie Lucas, a former two-time state qualifier. “Carley can equal her cousin in her senior year, and they can be part of three girls who’ve gone to state twice in my reign,” Collins said.