Inexperience to be a battle for Leafs

Amy Boldt
Michael Miller returns to the Geneseo tennis team for his senior year.

Although the 2009 Geneseo High School tennis team is on the young side this year without a lot of experience, the Leafs are going to be a very balanced team.

“We are kind of young and have a little less experience than we normally have,” said head coach Kevin Reed. “We have a lot of similarities to each other. Overall our team is very balanced this year, especially at practice we can put anybody together and they will compete and work hard. We are trying to focus on working hard in practice and competing every time.”

Geneseo has three returning players with varsity experience in junior Taylor Mighell and two seniors Michael Miller and Nick?Menozi.

“Taylor has played varsity last year at No. 2 and 3 and went to state (in doubles) so he will be giving us a lot of support,” said Reed. “Michael was our No. 4 and Nick our No. 6 last year so we have our No. 1 and 2 spots to fill and that is the key.

“Coach Honzel and Putnam do an excellent job with the F/S and we have Paul West and Josh Ward who will have big shoes to fill this year. The same with Brad Miller and Matt Koenig. The seniors will have to step up and fill some spots and help the team out.

“(With the Leafs inexperience) we have to learn as we play and we just can’t keep on doing the same mistakes. We have to learn from our mistakes. It is trial and error to get the right combinations and we are moving people around to play with different people and get experience.”

To get a little jump on the season and to allow the Leafs gain more playing time and experience, Geneseo has been working in the Geneseo Foundation Activity Center.

“The one nice thing is the facility has three courts and we are able to hit inside,” said Reed. “That is a huge advantage we have over other teams.”

The senior members of the team this year are Koenig, Brad Miller, Menozi, Michael Miller, Chris Campbell, Andrew Nelson and Robert Maier.

“We have five seniors and leadership is key,” said Reed. “We have some that have played tennis before and some who haven’t. This is their last year of tennis and I want them to commit themselves to tennis and do the best they can.”

Geneseo’s juniors looking to help out are West, Mighell, Alex Rusk, Ward, Ben Rudy, Brandon Boelens and Kyle Harding.

“I want Taylor to be a leader and lead by example, but it is going to be a tough season because there are a lot of returning seniors from other teams that are very good,” said Reed.

One of the biggest goals for the Leafs to accomplish this season is to win the NCIC.

“Other teams have one really good guy, but our team is very balanced and that is one thing you need to win the NCIC,” said Reed. “You need more than one guy to win the NCIC and we have the team to do that. We also want to get as many as we can down to state.”

The sophomores and freshmen who are also members of the team include: Sophomores Patrick Schroeder, Ryan Hamilton, Colby Lang, Tom Dellett, Landon?Heaton, Blake Croegaert, Joe Manna, Matt Despain, Leo DeBisschop, Zach Catton and Alex Petsche.

Freshmen Tyler Craig, Trevor Specht, Seth Hankins, Doug Menozi, Max Hurliman, Jim Rudy, Daniel Rowley, Dan Hanford and Alec Cheek.

One of the big strengths coach Reed sees with his team is that the squad has Mighell who has already been to state and knows the commitment it takes to get to that level. Another strength is the balance of the squad.

“We can put anybody together and they will compete,” said Reed. “We have to have a team effort as we play this year and so far right now that is what we are doing.”

As far as the outlook of the NCIC, a couple of favorites include Ottawa and LaSalle-Peru and coach Reed believes his Leafs are right up there with them.

Last season, the Leafs placed third in sectionals and second in the NCIC. The doubles team of Mighell and Michael Klein advanced to the state tennis tournament where they won their first round match, but then lost the next two.

The Leafs open the season at the Rock Island Gold Invite at 8:30 a.m. March 28.

“I am happy with where we are at and we have been hitting  a little bit earlier so hopefully it will get us prepared for the Rock Island Tournament,” said Reed. “We will get to see where we are at early and what we need to work on.”

Taylor Mighell comes back to the Leafs for his junior season.