PREBLE COUNTY — Both Eaton tennis coach John Hitchcock and Preble Shawnee tennis coach Dave Hubbard are expecting much improved seasons from their respective teams this spring.
Eaton returns six of its top seven players from a team that finished fifth in the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwestern Division last season.
Hitchcock is entering his fifth season as coach of the Eagles, who finished 6-11 overall and 2-4 in the SWBL.
“I’m optimistic that this year’s team should be even more competitive due to the fact that we return six of seven varsity players back to the line up. And even still I’d consider us a young team,” he said. “We only have two seniors on the team this year.”
Dylan Hauser, in his third season, and Cody Frizzell, in his second season are the only seniors.
Hitchcock said returning to singles for the Eagles will be juniors Breven Perry and Brad Kramer.
“Both who worked hard to get better during the off season,” he said.
Fellow junior Branson Ball will return to a familiar spot in doubles, and he benefits from having two years of experience, according to Hitchcock.
Eaton rounds out the team with two sophomores. Andrew Collins was the freshman of the year last season and has upped his level of play, and newcomer John Altom will fill a key role in doubles this season.
“As always we strive to win our league but that as always is a formidable challenge,” Hitchcock said. “With the likes of Bellbrook, Oakwood, Valley View, Brookville, among others, we always have our work cut out for us. In addition, this year I think we can also improve on our win/loss record as well. We were very close in several matches last year that I’d like to see us change in our direction this season.”
Due to Eaton’s spring break, the Eagles were off the first week of season.
“We hit the ground running on Monday (April 3) and really don’t let up for the entire month. Hopefully mother nature will be kind to us because we don’t have many options for rescheduled matches,” Hitchcock said.
Eaton was scheduled to play The Miami Valley School on Monday, April 3, and Dixie on Tuesday. Eaton is scheduled to play at Carlisle on Wednesday, host Franklin on Thursday, and Carroll on Friday. On Saturday, Eaton will travel to Edgewood.
Preble Shawnee is coming off an 8-8 season and 4-2 mark in the SWBL Buckeye Division, which was good for third place.
Hubbard is entering his sixth season as coach.
Alec Hamblin (senior) and Christopher Allen (senior) lead the list of returning players for the Arrows.
Both are 4-year varsity players who know what the expectations are and will need to be leaders on this team for the younger, newer players, according to Hubbard.
Allen will be playing second singles and Hamblin will be playing either third singles or first doubles.
Newcomers this season include Pierce Elliott (freshman), who will be the Arrows top singles player this season.
“Pierce is an outstanding young player who has being playing tennis and taking lessons since he was a little kid. He plays a lot of USTA events so he has a great deal of competitive match experience, much more than most freshman,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard is looking for his team to have a successful season.
“I believe we are going to have a very solid season. I expect we will have a winning record and I believe we will finish in the top three of our side of the league again this year,” he said.
Shawnee was scheduled to open the season this week.
“We open up our season this week with five matches. It’s going to be a very busy week but we expect to pick up several wins and get off to a strong start,” Hubbard said.
The Arrows were scheduled to play Chaminade Julienne on Monday and The Miami Valley School on Tuesday. They are scheduled to travel to Franklin on Wednesday and close out the week with a match at Middletown Madison on Thursday.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH