Boys All Levels Tennis
Good quality and depth should lead to a competitive season for the Columbus North boys tennis team.
So said Kendal Hammel, the Bull Dogs’ veteran coach whose 2017 squad strives to build off a 16-7 campaign a year ago that included a runner-up finish in Conference Indiana, a sectional championship and a runner-up finish in the Bedford North Lawrence Regional.
“I feel like we will have a pretty good year,” Hammel said of this season’s 31-player group. “We lost
some good seniors (from last year), but the guys coming back have worked hard and improved. We are working with about 10-12 guys for varsity spots.”
At this point, junior Kevin Lin, senior Akshaya Sabapathy and sophomore Joey Zhao appear set for the three varsity singles positions. Lin posted a 21-3 record and earned first-team all-state accolades while playing No. 1 doubles last season with graduate Ammar Khaled. Sabapathy was 2-7 in varsity matches and 8-3 in JV matches a year ago. Zhao went 11-3 in JV matches as a freshman.
Senior Isaac Jackson, who was 15-7 last season at No. 2 doubles, is slotted for No. 1 doubles this time. Senior Ben Mathew went 13-10 last season at No. 3 singles,
and he is among those competing for a spot.
Others vying for varsity positions include sophomore Bhavey Jain (7-1 in JV matches last season), sophomore Adam Saad (12-2), sophomore Atharva Kute (8-0), senior Chris Ruble (11-6), sophomore Eamon Ma (5-3) and senior Gabe Kirsch (2-0 varsity, 8-3 JV).
The depth of players to work with should be a key for this team, according to Hammel, who enters the 2017-18 school year with 699 career dual-match victories (360 in 23 seasons of boys, 339 in 21 seasons of girls).
“They all play together year round and have their own strengths to work with,” the coach said. “We will be a good team. We will compete with better teams because of matchups. We are looking to do well in conference and state tournament play. We probably will be a top-20 team as the year progresses.”
The Bull Dogs open their season on Friday and Saturday in the eight-team Jeffersonville Invitational. Their first dual match is Aug. 21 at Plainfield, and they host Columbus East on Aug. 22. Three Conference Indiana matches follow – Aug. 24 against Southport, Aug. 26 against Terre Haute North and Aug. 31 at Perry Meridian. CN hosts Center Grove on Sept. 2, then faces Terre Haute South on Sept. 5 and Franklin Central on Sept. 7. The sectional will be Sept. 27-29 at Columbus North.