Firestone boys tennis team led by trio of upperclassmen
WEST AKRON — Firestone High School boys tennis head coach Craig Sampsell said his team has two key goals this season: finish with a winning record and claim the City Series title.
Last season, the coach said, Firestone compiled a 7-8 overall record. The team finished in second place in the City Series and had three first-place winners in the tournament.
“We lost a few players to graduation, and it’s going to take its toll this year,” he said. “However, I know that our players are strong enough to more than make up for it if they’re committed.”
According to Sampsell, new leaders have stepped up this season.
“This year, we have a lot of young players, but we have strong leaders in Max Winer, M’Shinda Broaddus and Alex Maguire,” the coach stated. “They are our No. 1, 2 and 3 players, and the younger guys really look up to them. They’re grooming the younger players. They’re teaching them a lot about the game — about attitude toward the game.”
Winer is the team’s lone senior this season.
“Max Winer is an all-around great student and great influence on the younger players,” the coach said. “He’s a motivator and a great, positive influence. People really look to him, and that’s really an intangible he has. He’s talented and he has a drive to win.”
Sampsell said Firestone’s junior class is especially strong this season.
“Our junior class is the majority of our team this year, and I’m looking to M’Shinda Broaddus and Alex Maguire to carry much of the responsibility this year on how our team does overall,” he said. “Additionally, I’d like to see Matt Wilson, Aidan Matney and Matt Williams improve their skills because we will need them if the team is to be successful this year and next.”
The team has a few underclassmen who are beginning to stand out, Sampsell said.
“I’m looking for Jacob Pelrine, Josiah Hackett, Brian Schultz and Joey Aronhalt to really make some significant progress, as they will be the heart of the team next year,” he stated. “This year [is] a ‘learn as you go’ situation for our new players.”
Through April 21, Firestone’s overall record was 3-4. In the City Series, the Falcons were 2-1 with wins over North and Kenmore high schools and a loss to Garfield High School.
“The loss to Garfield was disappointing because our second singles player [Winer] was out sick and everyone had to bump up, which made it tough on some of the guys,” Sampsell said. “Overall, we’re on track except for that disappointing loss. But we’ll face them again in a week or so, and I expect the results to be different. We should pull out a win against them. They are a stronger team than they used to be, but we’re a little deeper.”
Plus, the coach said, Firestone is improving as the season progresses.
“Aronhalt and Hackett have improved as freshmen, and Max Winer, our senior, has come on really strong. Unfortunately, he missed a couple of matches because of illness, but he’s been doing really well,” he said. “I still think we can pull out a City Series championship. It will be a little tougher now that we lost to Garfield, but I don’t think it’s impossible.”
In addition, Sampsell said, this year’s team also is laying the foundation for future success.
“I think we look pretty good for the future,” he said. “You’d always like to see more guys come out, but this season we have a few freshmen on the team that will be able to sustain us for a few years.”
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