By Steve Joos
They hit the ground running, as wel1 as doing a few other things, like hitting backhands, forehands, and put-away volleys while serving.
That’s how the Mount Vernon boys’ tennis team started their season last week, winning its first dual meet and then dominating Saturday’s Washington Invitational tournament, winning the eight-team contest for the second straight year with 55 points, well ahead of the second-place Hatchets (27).
North Posey was sixth in a logjam right after the Wildcats, scoring 17 points, but it was Mount Vernon which had the biggest day, putting each of its players in their respective championship rounds and bringing home first place at four positions.
“We played really well,” Coach Vicki Rueger said. “With an eight-team tournament, there are plenty of good players and a number of strong teams, so to have all five spots reach the finals and four champions is really nice.”
The doubles teams struggled in the early going, but they were able to overcome those obstacles and advance to the finals, where everybody by first singles player Jevin Redman ran into problems with Central’s Jarred Hamilton, falling 6-2,6-0 in his championship match.
Everywhere else, it was all Mount Vernon.
Ross Canada posted a 6-1, 6-0 win over Corey Thompson of Washington, while Todd Scheffer was a 6-2, 6-4 winner over another Hatchet, Garrett Burton.
The doubles titles were a pair of “Cat fights” with Mount Vernon’s Seth Reeve and Luke Steinhart coming out on top at first doubles 7-5, 6-0 over Joe Bitter and Ethan Head of Mater Dei, while second doubles went to Hunter Wilson and Logan Brown 6-3, 6-0 over another Mater Dei duo, Joe Folz and Zach Goedde. “It was a total team effort,” Rueger said. “They had some really close matches early in the day, but they were able to take care of things and then came out on top at the end of the day.”
Mount Vernon was so strong that the real battle at Washington seemed to be for second, with the hosts nipping Central (26) for runner-up honors, with Mater Dei (24) in fourth place.
Tell City was just ahead of the Vikings in fifth place, with 19 points, while Boonville came in seventh with seven tallies. Linton-Stockton did not score and rounded out the field.
The Cats opened the season by tearing through Reitz 5-0 Tuesday in Evansville, winning a meet where Rueger said that her team was just better prepared.
There was plenty of whitewash to go around, as the Wildcats shutout the Panthers in at least one set at each of the four which the two teams contested and posted 6-0,6-0 victories at the top two singles spots.
It was 6-0, 6-0 at first singles, where Redman blanked Austin Loveless and at second singles, where it was Canada over Kitt Atherton.
Sheffer was a 6-1, 6-0 winner over Colin Runion at third singles, while Reeves and Stein hart topped Luke Sandefur and Austin Ballenger 6-0, 6-2 at first doubles. Wilson and Brown took a forfeit at second doubles.
The Wildcat reserves took their meet 2-0.
The Cats have picked things up since competition actually started, Rueger said.
“We worked on our skills in practice and we did a good job of getting ready for the season,” she said. “The doubles spots struggled a little bit and Seth Reeves was trying to be a little too aggressive, but we’ve been working hard.”
The top three singles spots will be a strong spot for Mount Vernon, as Redman, Canada and Scheffer bring a great deal of experience to those positions. Redman may have to contend with a number of tourney-tested players at his spot and they might make things tougher for the senior, but the coach is looking for big things from Canada and Scheffer, each of whom she feels have the potential to be undefeated this season.
And the doubles?
“We’d like to see a little more consistency from the dobules,” Rueger said. “There are times when I’ve to stare at them during practice.”
There’s a mix of experience and youth at both spots, with a senior (Reeves) teamed with a freshman (Steinhart) at first singles, while junior Wilson is matched with sophomore Brown at the second spot.
Rueger is especially pleased with Wilson, adding that he will be a stabilizing presence at second dobules.
The coach sees Jasper and Washington as the Wildcats’ toughest competition in the Big Eight Conference, while Castle and Memorial will be formidable overall.
The Cats and Knights squared off in a pre-season scrimmage and while Rueger acknowledged that her team played well against Castle, she also pointed out that some of the Knights’ better players didn’t participate in that scrimmage and they will be there when Castle invades Mount Vernon Wednesday night.
Rueger hopes that her team will win most of their regular season meets this year, as well as compete for the Sectional and maybe even win a Regional.
Mount Vernon has had its cracks at the Regional, winning 10 Sectional championships over the last 20-lous years.
They hit the ground running in pursuit of those goals last week.
By Steve Joos
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