Norton collects second straight league tennis title
By Jeff Gorman
NORTON — Norton High School’s boys tennis team has not failed to win the Portage Trail Conference (PTC) championship since joining the league two years ago.
The Panthers are two-for-two.
Junior Dan Fearer is the top singles player on the team this season. He placed fourth in the Division II Wooster Sectional Tournament May 10. Fearer qualified for the Canton District Tournament, where he lost to Chad Thompson of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in the first round May 16.
“Any time you get down there to districts, it is quite an accomplishment,” said Norton tennis coach Terry Sense. “Most of those kids are one-sport players. Dan also plays basketball and golf.”
Norton posted a record of 18-1. Fearer’s record was 17-1, and he won the league championship at first singles.
Senior co-captain Dan Wallace (16-2) and junior Brandon Farmer (14-4) won the league titles at second and third singles, respectively.
“These same three guys won the singles titles last year,” said Sense. “It wasn’t easy this year. We beat Coventry in all three final matches.
“Brandon lost twice this year to his opponent from Coventry in three sets each,” he added. “In the league finals, Brandon won in straight sets.”
The top doubles team for the Panthers consists of senior co-captain Adam Gibson and sophomore Jared Liotta. They finished fourth in the league at first doubles.
“They struggled a little bit with injury problems this year,” said Sense. “Getting fourth place was a big thing for them. They did what they needed to do.”
The team of juniors Tim Plouse and Derek Jeffrey won the league title at second doubles after going undefeated in the league.
“They competed well, and assuming everyone returns,” Sense said, “they will probably be our top doubles team next year.”
Sense said the keys to establishing Norton as a perennial tennis power are reaching students early and getting them to compete in the off-season.
“We have a six-week summer tennis program for kids in grades three through 12,” he said. “All of our varsity players have been in the program. They reap the benefits when they play six months out of the year instead of three or four.
“I think that gives our kids a little edge and puts them over the top,” Sense added. “We are trying to get kids excited about tennis at a young age. It’s a game they can play all their lives.”