Knights’ netters rolling on as tennis team improves to 13-1

Knights’ netters rolling on as tennis team improves to 13-1
Dave Mast

The improving and youthful West Holmes second doubles team of Brody Schaad and Jacob Miller has been a big reason the Knights now stand at 13-1.


The West Holmes tennis team had a strong mix of talent, experience and youth coming into the season this spring, enough to excite head coach Jason Otto about the possibilities.

West Holmes started the season with five 3-2 wins, then got into a groove and reeled off a good number of 5-0 victories. On Tuesday, April 20, the Knights got back to winning squeakers, pulling out a 3-2 win over Ohio Cardinal Conference foe Mt. Vernon.

The Knights claimed all three singles wins including first singles, where Curtis Wagner sailed to victory over Jack Staats 6-2, 6-3. Hunter Ellis took care of Quinn Huffman 6-2, 6-2, and James Barr disposed of Wade Brown 6-1, 6-1 at third singles.

In a pair of close doubles matches, the Yellowjackets came away victorious, with Alex Buehler and Brian Sabula defeating Jud Morris and Trevor Miller 6-2, 6-4 at first doubles and Ethan Jarosz and Toby Boggs coming from behind to beat West Holmes’ duo of Brody Schaad and Jacob Miller 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Earlier West Holmes ripped Mansfield Madison 5-0. Wagner defeated CJ Steffey 6-0, 6-0. Ellis toppled Will Laskey 6-0, 6-3. Barr smoked Connor Hoover 6-0, 6-0. Morris and Trevor Miller flew past Nate Phillips and Chase O’Connell 6-4, 6-0, and Schaad and Jacob Miller knocked off Xavier Ethel and John Keogh 6-1, 6-1.

With the wins West Holmes is now 13-1 and 4-0 in OCC play, and Otto said while he had high expectations for this group coming into the year, the way the season has unfolded has been quite pleasing.

“Before the season, I had set a goal of winning 12 matches, so we are there, but I don’t think I figured it would come this quickly,” Otto said. “I think the kids are excited.”

One big advantage for the Knights has been the strong play of first singles senior Wagner rolling along. Wagner’s smooth style of play has been a mainstay for the team this season, and Otto said having him has helped create a cushion in adding to West Holmes’ winning ways.

“It helps having that stability at the top of the line-up, and on most nights we are ahead 1-0 coming into the match because Curtis has been playing so well,” Otto said.

Otto said they have a nice blend of players who have lots of experience and newcomers who are learning on the fly. He said one big asset this season has been the way the experienced players have taken the younger or less experienced players under their wings and encouraged them.

“Six of our 10 guys are brand new to tennis, and I told some of the young guys that this is one of the first times I’ve had our experienced players do such a great job of complimenting each other,” Otto said. “Even in practice at the beginning of the season, they were complimenting each other a lot, and that has helped these new guys pick up strategies from the other players rather than from me coaching them. That’s a nice way to gain some understanding to the game, and that has really helped.”

Otto said newcomers Schaad and Jacob Miller have done a nice job of not trying to do too much, keeping the ball in play and winning points by allowing the opposing team to make mistakes. He also said Ellis has a nice mix of offensive weapons at second singles that has helped him succeed this season.

“He has a nice ground stroke, can slice it and play the net,” Otto said.

With both state power Lexington and a talented Wooster team on the horizon, Otto said his team still has work to do.

West Holmes has never defeated Lexington, although the Knights did pick up a win over Ashland earlier this season, the first time they have ever beaten the Arrows, and beating a solid Mt. Vernon team also was a strong effort.

“Wooster is really good, and Lex beat them 5-0, so that shows you where Lex is,” Otto said. “They are one and two in the league by far, but we are going to keep playing like we have and not worry about where we’re at in the standings.”

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