Region matches loom for Olympus boys tennis team
May 08, 2019 03:49PM
● By Josh McFadden
Olympus freshman Stewart Goodson has earned the spot at No. 1 singles for the boys tennis team. (Photo by Trace Stanger.)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
As far as results go, the Olympus boys tennis team had some ups and downs during the non-region portion of the schedule. It’s about what head coach Mike Epperson anticipated with his young group.
The Titans have 23 total players on the team, but Epperson acknowledged it’s a rebuilding year and that “focus and consistency is a continual work in progress.” The Titans have taken many matches to three sets, winning half of those contests.
“The season is going as I expected with a young team,” Epperson said. “The preseason matches overall have been well played, and our win-loss record has been favorable to the team throughout the preseason. With a mature and seasoned team that I had last year, we had won 90 percent of our three-set matches, so that shows a difference between the two teams of last year and this year with mental toughness and experience.”
Epperson, now in his eighth year as a high school tennis coach, said he always has high expectations for his teams, even in a year such as this one where he has more underclassmen and new additions to the squad. Heading into region play, he was pleased with the players’ competitiveness, especially those junior varsity players who are working hard to join the varsity group.
“The boys after practice have played many challenge matches against one another in trying to move up the ladder,” he said. “I still don’t have my varsity second doubles team set as of yet because the players 6–10 on the ladder continue to beat each other, as it’s so competitive between the players of equal abilities. Whatever team makes the second doubles team going into region will have absolutely earned that position.”
Epperson doesn’t like singling players out, as he feels everyone deserve recognition for his efforts and contributions. However, he isn’t shy about praising his No. 1 singles competitor, Stewart Goodson, who’s only a freshman. Goodson was undefeated in his non-region matches, and Epperson expects him to compete for a region title. Eventually, he thinks Goodson can make a name for himself at state.
“Stewart has been a wonderful addition to our team,” Epperson said. “I look forward to watching Stewart as a freshman continue to grow these next few years and wouldn’t be surprised at some point if he competes for a state title at No. 1 singles.”
Even though he has a different squad this season, Epperson still believes the Titans can be right up there with Skyline, fighting for the top spot in Region 6. Of course, there are other challenging opponents waiting for Olympus in league matches.
Epperson is confident that by the time the Titans play all their region matches and wrap up the regular season, all of his varsity team members will reach the state tournament.
“As always, I expect every varsity player to qualify for state, and Olympus has been able to do that the past three years,” he said. “So, again, I expect all seven of my varsity to continue the streak this year.”
Regardless of how many matches the team wins or how high it places at region and state, Epperson is grateful to be at the helm of a strong program with dedicated players and supportive parents and administrators. It makes his job easier and more satisfying.
“I’ve always been impressed with the quality of student-athlete I get each year on the courts,” he said. “I’m grateful for the parental support to the students and myself as a coach each season that I’ve been at Olympus. A program is only as strong as the support from the high school administration, Principal Steve Perschon, the athletic director, the parents, the students’ desire to get better, the facilities we play on and so forth. I’ve been fortunate as a coach to be surrounded by multiple entities in helping make Olympus tennis a successful program.”