Boys’ Tennis wins season opener against conference rival Seven Hills

Edwin Sam

By Edwin Sam ’13, Sports Section Editor.

In an extremely high-pressure match against local rival Seven Hills, the Boys’ Tennis team, ranked first in D-II in the city, lost both doubles matches but won all three singles competitions to win 3-2 as a team. As the match played out, the scene became even more tense and nerve-racking, but each singles player was able to settle down and triumph over the Stingers, all blowing out the opponent in their final sets.

The young squad, which featured four freshmen, one sophomore, and two juniors, let the pressure dictate the play early in their matches. However, each player overcame their nerves and relaxed more to better control their opponents.

In the second doubles match, featuring freshmen Will Cohen ’15 and Leonard Behrens ‘15, the pair went down early and lost the first set 6-1. As Cohen put it, “We had to work through some difficulties at the beginning, but in the second set, we picked it up a lot.” They fell behind 5-0 in the second set, won two games, but eventually lost the set 6-2.

The first doubles match, with the pairing of freshman Chase Tholke ’15 and junior Ani Kosaraju ’13, was the next to finish. Similar to the second doubles team, they also started the match poorly, losing the first set 6-2. They took an early lead 2-0 lead in the second set but soon lost 6-4 to end the match.

When asked about where they need to improve, the team unanimously agreed that the doubles teams needed work. Though they were the better players individually, it was difficult for them to play together this early in the season, especially with three of the four doubles players being freshmen.

“The doubles players are a bit too singles minded,” noted Kosaraju, “We need to play better within the doubles parameter, use more tactics like serve and volley so that we are better doubles teammates.”

After the losses of both doubles teams, the singles matches became vital for Country Day to win. Patrick Wildman ’14, the second doubles player, handily won 6-2, 6-0, dominating Seven Hills senior Matt Cohen ’12 with mesmerizing footwork.

Next to finish was the nationally renowned freshman star Asher Hirsch ’15, who won his match 6-4, 6-1 over Seven Hills ace John Larkin ‘13. Like the rest of the freshmen, he too was nervous to play in his first match of his CCD high school career.

As Wildman mentioned, “A lot of the guys are freshmen who have never played a match before, so this is a lot of their first matches. The freshmen out there were nervous, even Asher, who has played hundreds of matches.”

With the overall score tied 2-2, the team needed junior Michael Barton ’13, to deliver the win. Barton started strongly, winning the first set 7-6, with the tiebreaker score of 7-1. “You get nervous because it’s hard having your first match against the biggest rival. I’ve been hitting with Patrick and Asher, but it didn’t seem like anything real.”

Even while his movement was restricted by calf cramps, Barton overcame his injuries to win the final set 6-1 and hand Country Day the victory.

As Hirsch and Wildman noted, Seven Hills certainly is not the toughest team on their schedule, and the team must be careful not to get overconfident because of this win. Later in the season, the Tennis team plays the likes of Division I schools Lakota East, Sycamore, Princeton, St. X, and Mason.

With only one senior, Amar Mehta ’12, on the varsity squad, the Boys’ Tennis team will rely heavily on their youth to step up throughout the tough matches this season and carry the program in the future.

Photo courtesy of news.cincinnati.com