By JD McKay
The tennis team wakes up early to get a full day of work in and makes their way to FC to practice. When they arrive, the sun has roasted the courts, creating waves off heat coming off the concrete and through the rubber soles of their shoes.
“We have been on the courts for four or five hours a day just hitting this summer,” said junior Connor Mason.
That kind of hard work has shown. The team has a tradition of winning sectionals, having won 33 consecutively, but have been just short of going deeper into state recently.
“We definitely want to win regionals,” said head coach Robert Kleeman. “We haven’t won it since I have been a coach. We have lost in the regional finals the last three years.”
Junior Alex Poe played past regionals last year. Poe played doubles with Noah Neuhauser and eventually finished second in state, losing to Park Tudor’s team.
Losing Neuhauser is a challenge. Adding to the challenge is the lack of seniors, so some of the team’s leadership will fall to the juniors.
“We have two seniors, so I will count on leadership from my juniors, but I still expect my seniors to lead. The seniors kind of lead by example, they are the most outgoing, but they are very hardworking and will set a good example for the younger kids,” said Kleeman.
The talent of this year’s team should lead to a successful season.
“Last season we were ranked about 10, now we are all a little older and more talented. We lost two seniors last year, Noah Neuhauser and Kyle Poe, who were both really good and helped us,” said Kleeman. “But I think the younger boys have passed them up. It is just a really, really talented team.”