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Argylls young but have experience

ARGYLLS: Nick Evans returns for his junior season to lead a young and improving Madison-Grant boys tennis team.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

FAIRMOUNT - If hard work does indeed pay off, then a seniorless Madison-Grant boys’ tennis team could have one of its best seasons this fall.

Beginning at the top with No. 1 singles player Nick Evans, the Argylls returnees dedicated themselves to improvement since last season. Coach Tony Pitt said nearly everyone of the 14 players attended open court sessions at the high school during the summer, played in leagues or took lessons to prepare for the upcoming season.

Madison-Grant finished 12-10 last year and tied the school record for most meet wins set by the 1983 team. Graduation losses were No. 3 singles Tucker Robertson and the No. 1 doubles team of Dillon Sneed and Hayden Retherford.

“We have some goals,” Pitt said. “Last year, we tied the school record for most wins and a big goal is to surpass that. “We start the Madison County (tournament) early and I think that’s up for grabs. Lapel’s won it several years and are little down this year. It could be between Alexandria, Lapel, Pendleton Heights and ourselves - it could be pretty interesting.

“Then we get into (Central Indiana) conference and Mississinewa is at the head of the class and didn’t graduate anyone from last year,” he continued. “Last year, they beat us 5-0 but three of the positions went to three sets, and we won the first set in three of the five spots. They are going to be difficult, but I think we have a chance at them.”

Pitt said Evans has set the example for the rest of the team, continuing to work on his game over the winter and then in the summertime following baseball season. Others have picked up their play, most notedly Jace Gilman, who played No. 2 doubles last year and now is challenging for the No. 2 singles position. “Probably the top two players who have been performing all summer have been Jace and Nick and most year I’ll put them at 1-2 singles,” Pitt said. “Maybe I will put one at doubles every now and then, but I’ll be looking to start the lineup with those two. “Nick actually started in the fall and going into winter as well. He went to the Tennis Center in Greentown and took private lessons and did a couple classes and leagues and he’d be ind there three days a week. I definitely noticed a difference in the way he approaches things and his work ethic and way he strikes the ball, his shots sound a little different than the others.” 

Yet, Pitt said Gilman is gaining ground on Evans and in the process solidifying his claim to the No. 2 singles spot.

“Nick pushes other players and Jace Gilman is a good example of that,” Pitt said. “They were at every open courts this summer, and they were in our fundraiser tournament and it was a set to eight and Jace was actually up 4-1 before Nick came back and won 8-5 nick came back won that 8-5.

“It starts at the top and Nick tries to push them and they try to raise up to that level as well,” Pitt added.

Jackson Manwell is another returnee and played the majority of matches at No. 2 singles last year, but he also is a skilled doubles player. Lance Wilson returns and usually was Gilman’s partner at No. 2 doubles last year.

“I think (Manwell’s) strength is doubles - he’s got good hands and very aggressive at the net,” Pitt said. “Now, there may be some matches where we need him to step in and play singles, and he is versatile at both of them.”

Pitt said three junior varsity graduates, Bryce Metzger, Corbin Fox and Eli Lutterman, have an edge for varsity spots based on their work over the summer.

“Bryce Metzger came to every open court this summer and came to some leagues in Marion as well,” Pitt said. “Corbin Fox picked up his game big-time, and Eli Lutterman was borderline varsity last year and came to about everything in July and one we look for big things as well.”

Even with no seniors, the Argylls have just one player this season with no prior tennis experience. Even the two freshman played for the middle school team a year ago.

“Every single person on the team plays another sport, so we have some athletes and we have some competitors,” Pitt said. “They know how to fight and it should be one of the better teams we’ve had in a while.”