MOUNT VERNON — Graduating his top three singles players, Mount Vernon High School boys tennis coach Jeff Jarosz expected a rebuilding year in 2009. That’s exactly what he is getting. With just one senior — Cory Street — and eight freshmen, Jarosz and his team have their work cut out for themselves.
“This is going to be a rebuilding year; it will be more about them working on their game and working on consistency, and working toward next season,” Jarosz said. “With all of those freshmen, they will move up to be sophomores. This year will be a struggle for us. We may not get the results we want right away, but we are going to work really hard.”
Jarosz must replace Austin Kasserman at first singles, Chris Jaymes at second singles and third singles player Russell Ramser.
“We also lost one of our first double players, Aaron Lynn; he moved to England for the year,” said Jarosz. “Coming back for us, we have junior John Fleming, who played first doubles for us last year; he’ll most likely fit into the first singles role. Junior Alex Shillito, who played second doubles last year, looks like he’ll slide into the second singles role, and third singles is a little competition. Senior Cory Street and junior Max Whitney are fighting for that spot. Those are our returning players from last year.”
Losing a player of Kasserman’s or Jaymes’ quality would be tough any year, but losing the both of them together has dealt Jarosz a taxing hand.
“With losing those two boys, I think what is going to hurt the most is losing their leadership,” said Jarosz. “They were always the first on the court and the last off the court. They really worked hard on consistency and stuff like that. I think we are going to miss them being a great example to the rest of the kids. I’m just hoping in that losing their maturity, especially with all of the freshmen we have coming in, we don’t lose everybody else’s eagerness to learn and get better. Those two really pushed everybody else.
“As far as their playing ability, they went to district last year and finished second at the sectional, so that is obviously going to hurt too. More important than the competition role to me, though, is that leadership they brought.”
Filling out the remaining spots on the first doubles and second doubles teams is another priority for Jarosz. At the moment, there are six players vying for five spots.
“Whoever loses out on that third singles match between Cory and Max, one of them will be the leader of our first doubles team,” Jarosz said. “They will play with one of our four freshmen that are looking pretty strong. I have Jake Kight, Graham Hughes, Will Teator and Miles Kahrl, who have all looked good. Between those four, three of them are going to take the other doubles’ positions, so there is some competition amongst themselves.”
The Jackets’ move to the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division should help Jarosz’ squad in the long run. Other than powerhouse New Albany, the other teams in the division are similar to Mount Vernon.
“Obviously, we are not going to be able to compete with a team like New Albany, but when it comes to the rest of our conference foes, we might be able to step up and get a few wins,” said Jarosz. “It is going to be tough. I just want these kids to learn the game of tennis, and get better. We are grooming our kids for the long haul.
“Once you take New Albany out of the picture, I feel like we can compete. We are all going to fit in nicely. If we were to finish mid-pack, third or fourth, I think that would be great. I feel pretty good that we can do that. That would be a great finish for us.”
Mount Vernon begins the season on Monday, traveling to Lancaster for its first match. The Jackets are off on Tuesday, play at Clear Fork on Wednesday before their first home match against Olentangy Orange on Thursday.