Hawks seniors celebrate a tennis season to remember

Hawks seniors celebrate a tennis season to remember

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Not even the threat of rain could ruin the Hiland tennis team’s Senior Night celebration on Thursday, May 12. With seven seniors bolstering the line-up, the evening proved to be a big celebration, as parents ushered their tennis-playing children to center court.

That the Hawks went out and hammered out a 4-1 win over Alliance just added to the night, but it also capped off a terrific season in which the Hawks lost only two matches in the regular season.

This year’s team posted one of the finest seasons on record, at least since the 2013 record-setting campaign, and to get to celebrate it in front of parents and friends for the seven seniors at Senior Night was a fun way to put the wraps on a great season.

“We haven’t posted a ton of Northeast Tennis Conference titles over the years, so this year is a special season, and these guys have definitely earned everything they’ve accomplished this year,” head coach Bert Jones said.

With the majority of his team back, Jones said he expected the Hawks to compete, but what they did in carving out a season with just two losses was more than he expected.

“Based on last year’s results, where we finished runner-up in the league, I knew we were going to compete for the conference title, but I don’t think anyone expected us to do what we did this year,” Jones said.

At 18-2, with both 3-2 losses coming to strong teams in West Holmes and Canton Central Catholic, the Hawks were in every match and found success when multiple players stepped up to help add to the victory total.

Last season Jones went shopping for athletes to join the tennis team and found several soccer players, and that effort paid off when the bulk of those kids returned to play this season.

Among the seniors honored were first singles player Garret Shoup, who fought his way to districts at the end of the year by becoming the Div. II champion in the East Dover sectionals. Sam Kaufman held down the second singles position while fellow senior Wyatt Freeman played third singles. Zach Mullet and Caelen Howell, both seniors, played first singles all season. Junior Kurt Kaufman and sophomore Alex Jones tackled the second doubles team.

With that many seniors graduating, Jones knows he will be back on the recruiting trail at school next season to try to rebuild the squad.

“We have a good time and enjoy the game while we also compete,” Jones said. “These guys have played hard and given me 100% in each match. They’re great kids from great families, and I thought it was important to get to honor them on Senior Night, which we haven’t had since I’ve been here. They’ve been great and deserving of being honored.”

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