XENIA — Xenia boys tennis coach Steve Cukovecki almost teared up when he was asked to tell just how special this year’s senior dominated team was to him.
He’s coached the seven seniors since they were freshmen rookies unsure of how to hold a racket. Now the seven Buccaneers are holding their own on a tennis court.
“It’s been like night and day. They’ve vastly improved since I’d first started coaching them,” Cukovecki said. “Most of these guys had never even picked up a racket before, before their freshman year. And they come from all different sports. I’ve got football players out here, and swimmers, and golfers.
“When March came along, some of the guys could barely hit the ball over the net, while others couldn’t keep the ball from going over the fence. … And now these kids are out there holding their own against the best kids in the (Greater Western Ohio Conference). A lot of other teams and coaches are noticing how well they’re doing.
“I’m proud of them.”
In Tuesday’s April 18 matches against GWOC American East foe Riverside Stebbins, the Buccaneers won the match by a 4-1 tally. Xenia is now 4-8 overall and will play at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday April 19 at Lebanon.
While Kenneth Klontz fell 6-2, 6-3 to Stebbins’ Connor Schock, Dorien Morris won at second singles (6-1, 6-0 over Tyler Harris), Zane Cukovecki defeated Kyle Kleschka 6-1, 6-1 to take two out of the three singles matches.
At doubles, the Bucs’ Chris Brodsky and Michael Graham duo claimed a 6-0, 6-1 win over Stebbins’ Rily Timbrook and Brandon Osborne at first doubles. The second doubles tandem of Spencer Titus-Aaron Harrison won in straight sets 6-1, 6-1 over the Indians’ Milan Mijatov-Iven and Jalen Willis.
Stebbins coach Andrew Kiger last saw the Xenia players two years ago when his Indians had claimed a 3-2 win in Riverside. The two teams’ match, and subsequent re-scheduling of the initial rained out contest, were both rained out last season. So after almost a two-year absence, Kiger was able to notice the marked improvement in the Xenia players’ abilities.
“We beat them back then, but yeah, I see big time improvement in how they play now,” Kiger said. “I knew they had a few guys coming back, but there’s no doubt about it, they’ve improved dramatically.”
With Tuesday’s win, Xenia sits atop the evenly contested GWOC American South division with a 3-3 record.
Stebbins (3-7, 1-6 GWOC American South) is back in action Wednesday, April 19 with a home match with Clayton Northmont.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.