(March 22, 2019) Stephen Decatur tennis coaches and players think the 2019 season will be a successful one because of the amount of talent on each squad.
“This honestly, I think, is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said senior Jonathan Petito, captain of the Decatur boys’ team.
“We have a lot of experience. All of the returners got playing time last year and most the year before,” said Coach Steve Berquist.
There are 14 players on Berquist’s rosters. Six competed last year, when the team went 9-5.
“Everything’s been going great. The kid are having fun,” Berquist said. “We’re really experienced with the older kids and we have some new, younger talent.
“Our top seeds are good,” he added. “I think we’re ahead of where we were at this time last year. We have so many good players. We’re pretty strong.”
Freshman Noah Fisher is a welcomed addition to the team. He will play in the No. 1 spot.
“I’m excited. I’ve been wanting to play high school tennis for awhile,” he said.
Fisher is only 14 years old, but he has been playing tennis for 10 years.
“I thought I might be [the No. 1 seed], but I was going to play wherever coach wanted me to help out,” he said.
Fisher said he is a little nervous, but confident he can do a good job in the first singles position.
“It’s going to be an experience. It will be a bit new to me, but I’ll get used to it,” he said. “[My goal is to] have fun and play to the best of my ability, and help others get better.”
Petito will take the court as the No. 2 seed.
“This is my senior year, so it’s my last time playing here. It’s sad, but I’m also excited because I just love playing tennis,” he said.
Petito has been a member of the team since his freshman year. He will use that experience to help his teammates.
“There’s a lot of rules the new kids don’t know … some of them don’t know [how to keep] score and some didn’t know how to hit before the season started,” he said. “I’ve been trying to help them with serves, hitting, forehand [and] backhand.”
“He’s a great kid. He leads by example,” Berquist said. “He’s got a good demeanor on the court. He’s worked hard, and he’s gotten stronger and faster.”
Several other players are battling for starting singles and doubles spots.
Also returning to the court are senior doubles players Kyle Shelton and Omar Omar, as well as sophomore Aaron Cohen, junior Austin Marple, and senior Aaron Campbell. They will all play doubles, but may get into some singles matches.
Sophomore Micah Bourne is new to the team and will see singles and doubles action. Freshman John Brandhuber also joins the squad and will play doubles.
Berquist, now in his 11th season as head coach, said one of the goals is to be atop the Bayside South and compete for a conference title.
“With the team that we have, it’s a possibility,” he said. “It’s one of the stronger teams we’ve had in the last few years.”
Jamie Greenwood is in his 11th season coaching the girls’ team. Six of the 12 players on his roster competed last year, when the team finished 10-4.
“I think we’re going to do well. My top six are veterans and I think that helps us,” he said. “Their leadership will be helpful to the new, younger girls. I’m excited.”
Senior captain Grace Beres has been playing for Decatur since she was a freshman.
She will take the court in the first singles spot. She will also play doubles.
“I’m really excited, because it’s my senior year and I’m playing with my friends,” she said. “It should be a really good season.”
Beres said she will use her experience to help the younger girls understand the rules and improve their skills.
“We have a lot of new, fresh players,” she said. “Half our team is new players and half [is veterans], so it’s a good mix.”
Greenwood said Beres has grown tremendously over the last four seasons.
“She knows what my expectations are. She works well with everybody,” Greenwood said.
Junior Laura Meadows will compete in the second singles spot. She will also play doubles. Meadows and Beres also teamed up for doubles competition last year.
“A lot of my skills I’ve picked up along the way, so I feel that I can help [teammates] most with the basics – serving and scoring,” the three-year varsity player said. “There is a lot of improvement this year from both our old players, and our new players have improved since tryouts.
“We just want to be successful,” Meadows continued. “I am definitely looking forward to the season.”
Senior Sophia Gordy also returns. She will play in the third singles spot and in doubles matches.
Freshman Farrah Brown is new to the team and Greenwood said she has the potential to break into the top six.
Greenwood said all of the newcomers are working hard and have good attitudes.
“There’s a lot of team cohesiveness. Everyone gets along. I think that will go a long way,” Greenwood said. “Everyone is willing to try and the veterans are helping the new kids.”
Greenwood said he would like the team to be competitive in the conference.
“With our top-six seeds I think we can do that,” he said.