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Columbus North boys tennis seeks to build on success of 2013
August 21, 2014Columbus North High School
There is a new look to the 2014 Columbus North boys’ tennis team, but coach Kendal Hammel likes what he sees.
On the heels of a 20-1 season where the Bull Dogs advanced to the semistate, Hammel said this year’s team will be different but has the ability to excel.
“We have a number of returnees, but they will have to step up into new roles and play even better than they did last season,” said Hammel, whose squad opens the new season by competing in the eight-team Jeffersonville Invitational on Friday and Saturday (Aug. 22-23). “We also have some first-time varsity players, and they will have to step up as well. Still, we have the potential to be a good, solid team.”
Specifically, junior Rahul Jha, senior Anthony Sanders and junior Kevin Luo are vying for the varsity singles positions. Last season, Jha went 15-1 at No. 3 singles, 1-0 at No. 2 singles and 4-0 at No. 2 doubles. Sanders was 20-2 at No. 1 doubles, and Luo was 12-1 at No. 2 doubles, 5-1 at No. 3 singles and 1-0 at No. 2 singles.
In doubles, seniors Mitchell Miller and Jake Likens likely will comprise the No. 1 spot, while sophomore Nathan VanDeventer, junior Daniel Larken or sophomore Anay Gangal are top candidates for No. 2 doubles. Miller was 5-0 at No. 2 doubles last season in limited time because of injury, while Likens was 21-2 while teamed with Sanders at No. 1 doubles. Larken was 11-4 in JV doubles matches last season, while Gangal was 5-4 in JV singles matches in 2013.
“Rahul has picked up his game,” Hammel said. “He is hitting the ball harder, better and generally playing smarter in challenge-match play. Anthony is changing to singles after playing 1 doubles last season. He has played singles before, but he will have to adjust to the circumstances.
“After missing most of last season, Mitchell is back and looks strong in doubles. We are pleased with how he’s hitting the ball. He’s keeping balls in play and being aggressive.”
Two players who could factor at the varsity level are juniors Harrison Kirsch and Sebastian Sansores. Kirsch posted a 2-0 mark in JV singles matches and a 6-2 record in JV doubles matches. Sansores is a foreign-exchange student who may factor, although he is just beginning to work out with the CN team.
There are some adjustments to the Bull Dogs’ schedule this year, most notably the addition of Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South into Conference Indiana and the CI Tournament that will be played Sept. 20 at Southport. Other new opponents include Floyd Central on Aug. 27 and Roncalli on Sept. 29.
“It is difficult to project exactly how we will do because we don’t know how all the other teams will shake out,” Hammel said. “But I know we have 26 guys out, more than ever before, and we’ve got quite a few good players from top to bottom. They all cannot play varsity, so our JV group should be competitive, too.
“With Sebastian, we really don’t know how good he is. It’s possible he could impact us a lot, depending on how he does.”