MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School boys tennis team is off to one its best starts ever in the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division, and on Thursday, the Yellow Jackets raised their tally. Mount Vernon beat visiting Watkins Memorial, 5-0, to improve to 5-1 in the OCC Capital. The Jackets made short work of the Warriors, beating them in less than an hour.
“This is great, especially in the conference because we are second right now,” said Mount Vernon coach Jeff Jarosz. “Our main goal is to finish second on the year, so to get a win and keep our confidence rolling is big. We know there is going to be tougher competition coming up. In two weeks, we get to play Big Walnut and New Albany, which is the class of the OCC.”
John Fleming came out strong at first singles, downing Watkins Memorial’s usual No. 2 singles player, Halle Cheplowitz, 6-1, 6-0. Cheplowitz was playing in place of Stephen Heilinger, who is out with an injury.
“John started out slowly on the year, but he is coming along now,” said Jarosz. “He’s won three in a row now after today, which definitely helps his confidence. Sometimes he gets into a little mind game, so coming out and rallying for a couple of victories is good for him.”
Alex Shillito won his No. 2 singles match over the Warriors’ Justin Thomas by the same score, 6-1, 6-0. Freshman Avery Baldwin then made it a clean singles sweep, taking down Watkins Memorial’s Josh Crumbless, 6-0, 6-1.
“Alex has been wonderful all year,” Jarosz said. “He’s only lost one match, and that was in the championship of a tournament, so he is undefeated in dual matches so far. ... Avery too, at singles, is undefeated on the year. Singles is one of our strengths and they show it.”
Mount Vernon found itself with more of a challenge in doubles play, but still took both wins. First doubles pair Max Whitney and Will Teator knocked off Drew Stocker and Austin Williams, 6-1 and 6-3. Then sophomores Graham Hughes and Jake Kight teamed up to defeat Isaac Smith and Reed Wolfe, 7-6 (7-3) and 6-4.
“They need to get in those close matches because that’s where they grow the most,” said Jarosz of his second doubles squad. “They are working on being more of an offensive team. They like to play defense or don’t want to go for it as often. We are really working on them to put points away. They did it at times today. I was really impressed that they are trying harder.”
Though his team may have won rather easily, Jarosz is certain that the win is more than a win. It challenged his players in ways they may not be used to.
“I think this made us concentrate on being more consistent,” said Jarosz. “Today, we could relax and work on our mechanics and on-court play, meaning their strategy. That’s where it helps the most.”
The Jackets are scheduled to be back in action today, traveling to Zanesville for a nonleague match against the Blue Devils at 4:30 p.m.