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Junior class leading way for Green boys tennis team

5/2/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GREEN — After losing a trio of key seniors to graduation last year, Green High School boys tennis head coach Jan Hicks is counting on five juniors to lead the way for the team this year.

“We graduated three seniors from the top of the varsity line-up — first singles and first doubles — so we definitely have the challenge of replacing that strength,” the coach said. “I guess we would be considered a team of veterans, although we have only one senior [Keegan Crites] in the program, and he is currently on the junior varsity team. We had a nice group of freshmen come into the program three years ago, and these juniors now make up the backbone of both our varsity and JV [junior varsity] teams.”

This season, Green’s junior class is led by: Tommy Saunders (first singles), Tyler Fehr (second singles), Adam Jasso (third singles) and Isaac Lampner and Tommy Bacher (first doubles).

“Saunders has been on varsity since his freshman year and consistently competes at a high level against some outstanding competitors. Fehr has improved his game immensely since last year, and I am looking for him to get some important wins at the No. 2 spot. Both of these young men have stepped up as leaders on and off the court, especially in leading our conditioning workouts,” Hicks said. “Jasso has the potential to play strong at third singles as his confidence and consistency improves. Lampner and Bacher are excited to be playing first doubles and have a great on-court rapport that will hopefully help get them through many tough matches.”

In addition, Hicks said, Green’s second doubles team has been showing improvement this season.

“I am hoping my second doubles team of John Moresea and Clay Hammes will be a winning combination, once they get over the nerves that come with being new to varsity tennis,” she said. “Clay was new to the sport last season but really enjoys tennis and has worked very hard in the offseason to improve his strokes and add power to his game. John is an all-season athlete, so he doesn’t get to play much in the offseason, but when he steps on the court in March, he is a very consistent and smart player. They are good friends, too, so that adds an on-court chemistry that will hopefully translate into many wins at this position.”

According to Hicks, one goal this season is to build a new base of younger players for the team.

“We don’t have too many underclassmen,” she said. “We had to go out and recruit several beginners the first week of the season just to be able to field a JV team. Right now, they are learning the fundamentals of tennis and having fun, but I hope they will return next year and I can then name them as my ‘pleasant surprises’ for the 2014 season.”

The hardest part of this season, Hicks said, has been the absence of two of the team’s players.

“Ben Ladich should have played on varsity this year but was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma just before the season began. Ben is fighting the good fight with all the power, bravado and swagger he normally brings onto the tennis court. We wish him a swift and complete recovery so that he can be back on the team for his senior year,” she said. “Keegan Crites hoped to be able to play at the varsity level during his senior year, but he has not quite recovered from some serious medical issues that confined him to a wheelchair for most of his junior year. Keegan practiced with us in the preseason and hoped to be able to play doubles with the assist of a cane — we had received permission from the [Ohio High School Athletic Association] on this — but he decided recently that he could not compete at the level to which he would like to play. Keegan still attends practice when he can, but mostly supports his team from the sideline.”

Hicks is in her ninth year with the tennis program at Green and her sixth year as the boys varsity coach.

“My JV coach, Joby Bacher, is a teaching pro at Towpath Racquet Club, so he brings a wealth of tennis knowledge and experience to the program,” she said. “Denise Fehr also helps the team immensely as a volunteer assistant during the season and in the offseason when we offer a youth tennis camp in the summer, as well as co-ed drills over the winter for our high school players.”

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