Bull Dogs hope to ride depth to solid season

W hile there may not have a standout on this year’s Columbus North boys tennis team, the Bull Dogs do figure to have plenty of depth.

The Bull Dogs lost their No. 1 and No. 2 singles players to graduation from a team that went 13-8 and won a sectional title. But a few returners and some promising talent moving up from the junior varsity has veteran coach Kendal Hammel thinking big.

“We lost a lot of good players, but we as a coaching staff and the boys on the team are really excited about this year,” Hammel said. “As far as practice and challenging each other, they’ve been looking pretty good. There’s still some spots to be won and earned by some players.”

Senior Nathan VanDeventer, who played No. 1 doubles last season, likely will take over the No. 1 singles spot, at least to begin the season. Senior Anay Gangal moves up from No. 3 to No. 2 singles.

Sophomore Kevin Lin returns at No. 1 doubles, where he will be joined by senior Lucas Huang.

Senior Ammar Khaled and junior Ben Mathew could play No. 3 singles or No. 2 doubles. The other varsity spot is up for grabs between juniors Isaac Jackson, Chris Ruble, Gabe Kirsch and Akshaya Sabapathy.

“We don’t have a great No. 1 player, but we have a lot of nice players on our team,” Hammel said. “They’ve worked very hard from last year to this year. We think we have some good potential to do some damage in the state this year, as well as in the conference.”

Columbus East

Like North, the Olympians lost their top two singles players. East went 12-5 last season.

Seniors Matt Furnish and Sammy Woolwine were regional doubles qualifiers. This year, Furnish will play No. 1 singles, and Woolwine could play No. 3 singles or No. 1 doubles.

Senior Neeraj Pandita will be at No. 2 singles. Senior Daniel Kuhlman moves up from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 doubles.

Freshman Jackson Stevens and senior Austin Guse could play No. 3 singles or No. 2 doubles. Sophomore Luke Miller or freshman Ben Kuhlman also could play No. 3 singles.

“I think it will be tough,” East coach Jim Stone said. “Our schedule is so much better. It’s changed a lot. It will be real important for everybody to work extremely hard because I think there’s going to be a lot of close matches, and it could come down to where we win 3-2 or lose 3-2.”

Hauser

The Jets will have no seniors this year after going 7-9 last season.

Juniors Justin Compton and Sam Meek, who split time at No. 3 singles last year, are battling for the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots. Juniors Jacob Johnson and Alex Gross move up from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 doubles.

Sophomore Jacob Rudd has the inside track on the No. 3 singles spot, and junior Jacob Rose will be at No. 2 doubles. Sophomore Sean Miller could play No. 3 singles or No. 2 doubles.

“On the one hand, you lack senior leadership, but on the other hand, when you have a group of five juniors, you still get the experience,” Hauser coach John Pratt said. “You just have to deal with players filling holes and playing varsity when they’re not used to it. The beauty is, everybody is back next year, and we have four athletic freshmen, so the future looks bright.”

Jennings County

Longtime boys golf coach Gary Yeager takes over the tennis team this fall and will look to improve on an 8-12 season.

Senior Luke Ertel is back at No. 1 doubles, junior Austin Mills returns at No. 3 singles and junior Justin Gasper moves from No. 2 doubles to No. 2 singles.

Sophomore Weston Miller will step in at No. 1 singles. Junior Briar Davis will join Ertel at No. 1 doubles, and sophomores Thomas Schuler and Bryce Kirchner will be at No. 2 doubles.

“With Weston being very athletic, I think he can compete,” Yeager said. “From 2 on down, I think it’s going to be pretty competitive all year.”

Brown County

The Eagles lost their No. 1 singles player, but return six others from a team that went 12-6 and won the Western Indiana Conference title.

Senior Cash Myers moves up from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles. Senior Austin Roush and junior Abe Oliver, both of which played some No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles last season, will be at No. 1 doubles.

Seniors Jesse Williams and Cole Smith, who saw some varsity action last year, are battling for the No. 2 and No. 3 singles spots, along with freshman Aaron McCann and sophomore Chase Watson. The ones who don’t play there likely will play No. 2 doubles.

“I think we have a chance to defend the title,” Brown County coach Kevin Roush said. “The Western side I’m sure is gunning for us, and we kind of have that target on our back after winning last year. I think the guys want to defend it, and they’ve been talking about it since last October.”

Edinburgh

The Lancers will play their first match with only six players on Tuesday, but will have the full seven for their second match after junior Carlos Pazmino, and exchange student from Ecuador, gets his 10 practices under his belt.

Edinburgh went 6-11 last season.

“We’re trying to rebuild,” Edinburgh coach Pete Khensouri said. “I lost a whole bunch of (players).”

Sophomore Coltan Henderson moves up from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles. Pazmino likely will begin the season at No. 2 singles, but could challenge for the No. 1 spot.

Senior Tommy Schneider, who played some doubles last year, could be at No. 3 singles, while seniors Blake Elliott and Wyatt Kinney move up from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 doubles. Junior Ryan Gaston, freshman Bladen McManaway and senior Keegan Jones are battling for the No. 2 doubles spots.

Trinity Lutheran

The Lancers have a new coach in Danny Frastaci, who will look to help the Cougars improve on a 3-13 record.

Senior Jonathan Keith moves up from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles. Juniors Matt Stuckwisch and Bailey Baker played No. 1 doubles, and at least one of them will play singles this year.

Sophomore Pierce McCammon could play No. 3 singles or No. 2 doubles, and freshman Jace Crockett and sophomore Caleb Gruenewald will play doubles. Sophomores Aden Jones and Hunter Morgan are battling for the other varsity spot.

“We’re probably going to have a growing season,” Frastaci said. “It’s going to be one of those years. We hope we get a little match experience and keep building toward the end of the season.”

At a glance

2016 boys tennis schedules for Bartholomew County schools:

Columbus East

Today;at Bloomington South;5 p.m.

Thursday;Greenwood;5 p.m.

Aug. 22;Bedford North Lawrence;5 p.m.

Aug. 23;at Brown County;5 p.m.

Aug. 25;at Madison;5 p.m.

Aug. 27;at Plainfield;10 a.m.

Aug. 31;Columbus North;4:15 p.m.

Sept. 1;Jennings County;5 p.m.

Sept. 7;East Central;5:30 p.m.

Sept. 8;Batesville;5 p.m.

Sept. 10;at Shelbyville;9 a.m.

Sept. 14;at Greensburg;4:45 p.m.

Sept. 15;Seymour;5 p.m.

Sept.17;East Invitational;9 a.m.

Sept. 19;at Jennings County (HHC tourney);5 p.m.

Sept. 21;at HHC tourney;5 p.m.

Sept. 23;at HHC tourney;TBA

Columbus North

Friday;at Jeffersonville tourney;6:30 p.m.

Saturday;at Jeffersonville tourney;10 a.m.

Aug. 22;Plainfield;5 p.m.

Aug. 24;Floyd Central;6 p.m.

Aug. 25;at Southport;5:30 p.m.

Aug. 31;at Columbus East;4 p.m.

Sept. 1;Perry Meridian;5:30 p.m.

Sept. 3;at Center Grove;9 a.m.

Sept. 6;at Terre Haute South;6 p.m.

Sept. 8;Franklin Central;5:30 p.m.

Sept. 10;North Invitational;9 a.m.

Sept. 13;at Bloomington South;5:30 p.m.

Sept. 17;Conference Indiana tourney at Terre Haute;10 a.m.

Sept. 20;Greenwood;5 p.m.

Sept. 22;at Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.

Sept. 24;Silver Creek;10 a.m.

Sept. 26;Roncalli;5 p.m.

Hauser

Tuesday;at Shelbyville;6:30 p.m.

Thursday;at Brown County;4:30 p.m.

Aug. 22;at Milan;4:30 p.m.

Aug. 25;Eastern Hancock;5 p.m.

Aug. 29;Edinburgh;4:30 p.m.

Aug. 30;at Southwestern (Shelby);4:30 p.m.

Sept. 1;Indian Creek;4:30 p.m.

Sept. 6;Triton Central;4:30 p.m.

Sept. 8;Morristown;4:30 p.m.

Sept. 12;at Knightstown;5 p.m.

Sept. 13;at Waldron;4:30 p.m.

Sept. 15;Greensburg;4:30 p.m.

Sept. 22;Oldenburg Academy;5 p.m.

Sept. 24;Hauser Classic;9 a.m.

Sept. 27;Indianapolis Lutheran;4:30 p.m.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.