BROCKWAY — The 2020 season for the Brockway boys tennis team was set to bring a mix of experienced returnees along with a few first-year players.
The Rovers returned five players with varsity experience in seniors Nathan Bennett and Braidon Smith, juniors Lewis Painter and Ryan Lin as well as sophomore Jared Marchiori.
The rest of the team consists of junior Conner Ryckman, sophomore Joe Hertel and freshman John Knox.
“Our top-five players have been working hard in previous seasons and are leading the way for our newer players who are excited and eager to better learn the game of tennis,” head coach Cynthia Copenhaver said.
Now it is a question of whether or not those experienced players will get a chance to be leaders in season, as the spring sports season is in jeopardy due to COVID-19.
Copenhaver noted that while the team should have a solid singles lineup, the halting of practice will put their doubles teams in a tough spot if and when the season resumes and they will have to improve as the year goes on.
She said she stresses to her players that the most important thing is for them to have fun on the tour while displaying good sportsmanship.
The head coach expects Painter to start at No. 1 singles, followed by Bennett, Marchiori and Lin in the two through four spots, respectively.
She noted that Bennett and Painter will likely be the teams leaders both on and off the court this season.
“Nathan’s (Bennett) leadership strength resides in his natural calmness and composure on the court, which is contagious among the team,” Copenhaver said. “Lewis (Painter) uses his high energy level to encourage teammates while bringing an element of fun to the game.”
“They are both respectful young men who have displayed leadership during practices and taken the new players under their wings. They have worked hard to earn their top positions and I am proud to have them represent Brockway.”
Returning five players with varsity experience will be a key strength for the Rovers this season.
Copenhaver stressed that her team’s experience will help them go up against the tough competitions throughout District 9.
“Our team cohesiveness will also serve as an asset when facing tough completion,” Copenhaver said. “We have great team spirit, everyone gets along well and is willing to go out of their way to help and encourage each other both on and off the court.”
The head coach stated that the current shut down of sports has given the entire team an opportunity to become more resilient.
She added that assistant coach Katie Benson addressed the situation with the team at their final practice and told the players how to navigate the situation and to always make time to improve their game within the current constraints.
“Tennis is a unique sport in that while it has a team element, there is a lot within the sport that can be done on one’s own,” Copenhaver said.
She added the team has been encouraged to work on conditioning, hitting against a backboard and practicing their service game.
Along with Benson, Copenhaver has John Hawkins as an assistant coach this season.
The head coach closed with a final message to her team:
“To our seniors, I hope you will find yourself more resilient on the other side of this, regardless of what the rest of the school year may hold. To our new players, I hope you get to experience your first high school tennis match soon,” Copenhaver said.
“We are all in this together and we need to remain together afterwards, lets not forget how we got here.”
Seniors: Nathan Bennett, Braidon Smith. Juniors: Lewis Painter, Ryan Lin, Conner Ryckman. Sophomores: Jared Marchiori, Joe Hertel. Freshman: John Knox.