Cincinnati Hills League boys’ tennis championships seem to belong almost by birthright to Indian Hill.
The Braves have won all but two of them since the CHL was formed for the 1985-1986 school year.
The only team besides Indian Hill to claim CHL championships is Wyoming, which won its first in 2009 and second last season by virtue of going 5-0 in the league to finish one match ahead of the Braves in the standings.
The difference? A tight, 3-2 win by the Cowboys in their only matchup of the regular season.
Gone from that Wyoming team, which went 13-3 overall, are CHL coach of the year Ted Plattenburg and first-team all-league picks Nik Plattenburg and Mike Montgomery, but new Cowboys’ coach Laurie J. Hoppenjans finds the returning talent impressive – and cornucopia-level plentiful.
The biggest problem for Hoppenjans, an attorney who previously was Wyoming’s girls’ junior varsity coach, is deciding on any given day who will play singles and who will play doubles.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said Hoppenjans, who played at St. Henry High School in Northern Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. “I have a lot of flexibility on where I place my players. I have a couple of players who are most comfortable in singles and a couple in doubles, but truthfully, most of our players are equally as good in singles and doubles.
“They are an athletic group of guys who are very coachable. I think I know my strongest lineup, but I also have a strong second lineup.”
Seniors Myles Bourbon and Will Carter are Wyoming’s most-accomplished returning players. Bourbon, who teamed up with Nik Plattenburg to qualify for last season’s Division II state doubles tournament, was named first-team all-league last season after making the second team each of the previous two years. Carter is a two-time first-teamer after earning honorable mention as a freshman.
Juniors Jay Klein and Chris Murray also have made all-league appearances. Murray was a second-team pick last season, while Klein earned honorable mention after being named to the second team as a freshman.
“Bourbon, Carter and Murray are all at the top of their games,” said Hoppenjans, whose team lost to eventual state-champion Cincinnati Country Day in the semifinals of the Southwest District portion of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association annual team tournament. “The boys have been practicing indoors preseason and have shown great dedication to the sport.
“There is a strong camaraderie that allows them to enjoy the sport and each other while, at the same time, fiercely competing with one another.”
Hoppenjans expects the returning Cowboys, who also include senior Kieren Thomas and junior Nolan Morley, to at least be pushed by freshman George Arenas. If nothing else, Arenas makes an already deep roster that much deeper, according to long-time St. Xavier coach Russ King.
“Wyoming has a new freshman that will improve their already tough team, and they will be solid at both singles and doubles,” King said
The Cowboys – who are ranked No. 1 in the Enquirer’s Division II pre-season coaches’ poll, one point ahead of Cincinnati Country Day and Seven Hills and two ahead of Indian Hill – are scheduled to open the season on Tuesday at home against Anderson, one of four teams ranked ninth in the Division I poll.
This season’s home opener is especially monumental for the Cowboys, who will be christening new courts at the high school.
“We have five courts in one location,” Hoppenjans said. “That’s a first for Wyoming tennis. We used to have to send one court to another location. The school and the community really came together.”
Unfortunately, for the Cowboys, they won’t have homecourt advantage for what is likely to be a crucial CHL match with Indian Hill. The Cowboys and Braves are due to square off at Indian Hill on May 4.