Despite being just 3-10 last season, East Clinton tennis coach Bill Hrabak looks for his Astros to make a run for the SBAAC National Division championship this spring.
Hrabak said the hopes of National Division supremacy rests with a veteran squad, led by five seniors – Jake Howard, John Cline, Josh Cline, Hayden Pirman and Aidan Henson.
Howard, Pirman and the Clines have been three-year letterwinners.
Howard will be the cornerstone of the Astros squad, Hrabak said. He was the team MVP in 2019 and projects, at this point in time, as the No. 1 singles player on the team.
Other returning players are Trent Garen, Owen Beatty, Aaron Hughes and Grant Stonewall.
Newcomers to note include San Jeong, Ryan Vance, Logan Swaney and Lex Frye.
Hrabak said Bethel-Tate is the preseason division favorite but Blanchester, Bethel-Tate and Felicity will offer strong resistance in the National.
Hrabak said East Clinton will be taking a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach to play three matches.
Also, East Clinton will host the inaugural Streber Mortgage Tennis Tournament at Wilmington High School April 4. Teams scheduled to participate are Batavia, Legacy Christian and Stivers School for the Performing Arts.
After several years as an assistant coach, Reilly Hopkins takes over the Blanchester High School boys tennis program.
He replaces long-time coach Scott Shepard. Blanchester won four SBAAC National Division titles since 2011.
“Shepard was an amazing tennis coach and even better man,” Hopkins said. “His wisdom and guidance will be missing on the court. In my book, he’s a hall of fame coach.”
Last season, the Wildcats were runnerusp to unbeaten Bethel-Tate in the league standings.
Jacob Miller, a 2019 BHS graduate, was the National Division player of the year. Seniors Cody McCollister and Ian Heeg also were part of that team.
The returning players include Bryan Miller, Logan Heitzman, Colton Wilson, Bryce Bandow. Newcomers are Colt Conover and Andrew Osborne, though Hopkins hopes additional players find their way to the BHS tennis courts.
“The 2020 season is wide open and full of opportunity, especially in the SBAAC where anything can happen,” Hopkins said. “Our biggest challenge, as always, will be Bethel-tate and Felicity Franklin. I’m confident that if we remain dedicated and commit to hard work, we will be very successful in the upcoming season. I like to think Blanchester produces great people, and I am proud to coach this team that is filled with great individuals.”
Wilmington had an unblemished 10-0 record in SBAAC American Division competition last season.
Head coach Steve Reed, in his 20th season as head coach with 200 career wins, was named American Division coach of the year while Avery Bradshaw was the player of the year, despite being just a sophomore.
Jack Romer, Jonathan Fender and Brady Henry were 2019 WHS graduates on last season’s championship squad.
Assisted by Doug Cooper, Reed also welcomes back Caleb Reed and Brayden Rhoads.
Reed said he likes the team’s energy. “They are excited to be on the court,” he said.
The goals remain the same for Reed and the Hurricane, win an SBAAC American Division championship, advance individuals to the district and compete for Coaches Classic and Hurricane Invitational titles.
The Falcons were 11-7 last season under head coach Rod Amburgy and finished fourth in the SBAAC American Division.
First-team All-SBAAC performer Clayton Amburgy, a senior, returns to the fold for Massie this season along with classmate Austin Faucett. Both players have chosen Mount Vernon Nazarene College to continue their academic and athletic careers.
Alex Jones, Garrett Karns and Barak Bennet also return to give the Falcons a solid foundation to build on.
Coach Amburgy likes the potential of his singles players but says all of the Massie players have aspects to improve upon in 2020.