Walsh boys tennis team successful navigating difficult schedule
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Despite an extremely tough schedule, the Walsh Jesuit High School boys tennis team has compiled a 10-4 record so far.
“We probably play one of the strongest schedules in the state,” said head coach Rocco Cona. “Of our 20 scheduled matches, we play 11 teams that are currently ranked in the top 10 in either Division I or Division II.”
According to Cona, the difficult schedule is by design.
“I’ve got a good team, so you’ve got to play the best competition,” he said. “We’ve lost three matches [by a score of] 3-2, and in each of those, with a little bit better play and maybe a little bit of luck, they could have turned our way. So, we’re doing fine. We’re still alive in the team tournaments. We have defeated Jackson and Mayfield in our first two rounds.”
Next week, in the Northeast Ohio Division I team tournament quarterfinals, Walsh will play St. Ignatius High School on a date yet to be determined. St. Ignatius is one of those teams to have earned a 3-2 win over the Warriors this season.
“We are looking forward to playing them again and, hopefully, having a little better result,” the coach stated.
Cona said he has seen improvement in his players as the year has progressed.
“As we have played more and more matches, our match toughness keeps getting stronger,” he said. “I have definitely seen improvement, especially in that area.”
On the flip side, however, Cona said he wants to see his team work on “maintaining intensity throughout the whole match.”
“I think that’s the big thing we need to work on,” he said. “I have a pretty young team, and sometimes their concentration goes in and out. We have to keep our intensity up. As the stakes keep getting bigger, we have to keep improving.”
There are two seniors on this year’s Walsh boys tennis team: Jonathan Dietrich and Zach Moneypenny.
“They play first and second doubles at different times. They frequently play as a team, but they also do get split up occasionally,” Cona said. “They’ve been on the team for a couple of years. They are very athletic and very competitive. I know when they go out there that they give me their all each time.”
The team’s No. 1 singles player is sophomore Aaron Sandberg.
“Aaron doesn’t get an easy match any time he goes out on the court, but he has the ability to be one of the best players in the state, even as a sophomore,” the coach said. “There are a lot of good players in the state, but Aaron is in the mix among the top ones.”
The team’s captain is junior Matt Miles, who plays second singles.
“Matt has been a great leader for the team since his freshman year,” Cona said. “He is a great competitor. He has a great desire both on and off the court to do good things for this Walsh Jesuit team.”
Two other players who play key roles for the team are sophomores Grant Ring and Gaven Cona.
“They sometimes play third singles and sometimes doubles,” the coach said. “They played varsity last year on a team that finished third in the state in Division I, so they gained some valuable experience last year, and we’re expecting big things out of them this year.”
Cona, who is assisted by Ron Gander, is in his 20th season as the team’s head coach.
“I’m lucky to be coaching some great kids who are willing to be coached,” Cona said.
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