MOUNT VERNON — There is no better way to instill some confidence into a player than to win. And no one knows that any better than Mount Vernon boys tennis coach Jeff Jarosz.
Coming off a 5-0 defeat to New Albany on Tuesday, Jarosz’s team rebounded to defeat visiting Marion Harding, 4-1, on Thursday at Memorial Park.
“This whole year has been great,” said Jarosz. “The kids have been great. We’ve been really successful, now at 8-3. At the beginning of the season, I couldn’t dream that we would be doing this well. Today’s matches were a little close, which makes the kids nervous, and I get nervous when it is close. Anytime they can calm their nerves, it is a good thing.
“Tennis is really a confidence game. When your mind is set right, you have more ability to hit the tougher shots. It is a mind game. Getting two wins under your belt in a row, it puts the kids in a better mindset.”
Mount Vernon won on Wednesday, 4-1, over host Westerville North.
The Yellow Jackets controlled every match but one against the Presidents on Thursday, and won easily in three of the five contests. Their only loss came at first singles. Senior John Fleming battled Marion Harding’s Jason Jerew, but Jerew proved to strong and won, 6-2, 6-4.
“John made a huge comeback in the second set,” said Jarosz. “He lost, but he showed a lot more confidence. Against better competition, he seems to get better and that is what he needs.”
Mount Vernon swept the other two singles matches, with senior Alex Shillito blanking the Presidents’ Michael Oney, 6-0, 6-0, and freshman Avery Baldwin taking down Eder Ayala, 6-2, 6-1.
“Alex and Avery are so strong at No. 2 and 3 that sometimes they don’t get the competition they need to get better,” said Jarosz. “That’s why playing a team like New Albany helps because they are playing someone else above them.”
In doubles action, senior Max Whitney and sophomore Will Teater combined to defeat Harding’s Mack Lavingood and Jeremy Crammer, 6-2, 6-3. The Jackets’ second doubles pair of sophomores Graham Hughes and Jake Kight had a little tougher time with their opponent, Phil Henneysey and Cody Drake, but still came out on top. They won the first set, 6-3, and took the second in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-3).
“Those kids are new to the game, and every win builds their confidence,” said Jarosz. “Plus, it is more fun to win than to lose. Seeing them achieve makes me happy.”
The Jackets now turn their sights to the Ohio Capital Conference Tournament on Saturday. Mount Vernon lost three league matches during the regular season, which has Jarosz keeping expectations high.
“Saturday is going to be tough,” Jarosz said. “The competition is a little stronger than I had expected at the beginning of the year. We’re going into the OCC (Tournament) in third place. If we can hold that third-place position, I would be really pleased.”