MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School boys tennis team begins the 2010 season today, and coach Jeff Jarosz has high hopes for this squad. The Yellow Jackets return a large core of players, and combined with the large number of newcomers, they should have a very competitive team.
“This is the first time in a long time where we had to make cuts,” said Jarosz. “We had 25 guys try out, and we ended up keeping 15. We have a strong group coming back. We only lost one senior from last year’s team, so we hope to be pretty good.”
With a large number of players trying out, the talent level of this year’s team is very deep. That has Jarosz raising the expectations.
“I think this is going to be the best we’ve had in a long time at Mount Vernon,” said Jarosz, “mainly because of all the experience we have coming back. We have three returning seniors, a freshman phenom and a bunch of kids that played varsity last year.”
Mount Vernon will be led by the seniors — John Fleming, Alex Shillito and Max Whitney. All three have seen a large amount of varsity playing time, and should anchor the squad.
“Our three returning seniors are our only seniors on the team,” Jarosz said. “John Fleming played first singles for us last year, and was one match away from going on to district. Alex Shillito played second singles for us, and Max Whitney played a little bit of everywhere for us. ... John and Alex will be our team leaders. They will again be our No. 1 and No. 2 singles players. They went about .500 last year, but I think they can win 75 percent of their matches, depending on the competition we play. Max will play first doubles for us, so hopefully, he will take charge of that spot for us and be a leader.”
The phenom that Jarosz referred to earlier will see action at third singles for Mount Vernon this year.
“Our freshman is Avery Baldwin; he has played a lot around town and in some tournaments,” said Jarosz. “He played in Lexington a lot, and he has been successful in some 14-and-under tournaments in Columbus.”
Whitney split his playing time between singles and doubles action last year. This season, he’ll replace graduated Cory Street as a first doubles partner for Will Teeter.
“Right now, it looks like Max is going to play with Will Teeter, who played first doubles last year,” said Jarosz. “Our second doubles team looks like it is going to be Jake Kight and Graham Hughes. They both played in various matches last year, rotating in and out. They look like a strong solid two team for us this year.”
The Jackets schedule isn’t an easy one. The Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division title runs through New Albany, making winning one a difficult task. Mount Vernon also plays in some bigger tournaments at Westerville South and Ashland high schools.
“Playing with New Albany, a league title might be a little hard to come by, but we have a team goal to try and finish second in the league this year,” Jarosz said. “We think we can compete with Big Walnut, Olentangy Orange, Hilliard Bradley and the other teams in the league. There is also the Ashland Tournament, where we have never fared well, and we have a team goal to finish first in that tournament. With the talent we have, I think that can happen.”
Only time will tell what’s in store for the Yellow Jackets, but Jarosz is certain is team will put forth its best effort every time out.
“This is my most exciting season because I think this is the most talent we’ve had throughout the program,” said Jarosz. “I’m a little nervous, but at the same time, I’m optimistic. You never know quite what you are going to get because you don’t know what other teams are doing. It is a happy anxiety.”
The season begins today at 4:30 p.m. against Delaware Hayes at Memorial Park.