The Wildcat varsity tennis team kicked off the 2017 season with a convincing 7-1 win over the Brandon Blackhawks Aug. 24, and is looking to establish itself as a dominant force on the court.
Oxford swept the singles matches that day with victories from #1 Singles, Lauren Opalewski (6-0 6-0); #2 Singles, Connor Romine (6-3 6-1); #3 Singles, Hayden Durant (6-1 6-2); and #4 Singles, Trevor Wallace (6-37-6).
In Doubles matches, Oxford got victories from #1 Doubles, Drew Galley and Jonathan Robb (6-2 6-3); #3 Doubles, Brock Heilig and Brenden Hamari (6-0 6-0); and #4 Doubles, Nolan Kutchey and Silas Von Allmen (6-2 6-1).
The team of 14 has 12 returning players this year, including Romine and Heilig who were both All-League selections in the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) last season.
The Wildcats tennis program has been expanding in numbers since its founding last year, according to Head Coach Ryan Ruzziconi.The overall program has grown from 14 athletes last year to a total of 23 in the current season.
“Our team goals are to continue building the program in year two and to continue our daily improvement in all areas of the game. The team has been using the phrase ‘trust the process’ as a reminder of the daily process it takes to building a winning tennis program at Oxford,” said Ruzziconi.
Since many of those on the varsity team this season are returning athletes, Ruzziconi said they are building on the foundation of last season’s lessons to enhance their performance as Wildcat athletes.
“The biggest strength is having some experience on the varsity roster. While the teamis still comprised of mostly sophomores, it’s a team that has played together for two seasons now and is starting to apply their experience to match play,” Ruzziconi said.
Despite the team’s strong showing at last year’s Michigan High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) Boys Tennis Regional, where it took seventh place, Ruzziconi says the team won’t be resting on its laurels.
Instead, he said the team will be striving to become bigger and better throughout the length of the season.
“We are always looking to improve on the fundamentals of tennis and strategy in matchplay. But this year we are also focusing on attitude, that the team needs to fight for every point,” Ruzziconi said.With a large selection of experienced players to work with, Ruzziconi noted a few particular stand-out players to look for on the court.
“Our varsity singles players are strong thisyear. We have junior Lauren Opalewski who is playing for the boys team this year and has jumped right into a leadership role on the team, as well as being a really good player at #1 Singles. Senior Connor Romine is a co-captain and a very good athlete at #2 Singles. Hayden Durant and Trevor Wallace, both sophomores, play #3 and #4 singles respectively. Hayden and Trevor are the future leaders of this team and their play on the court has grown this season. Finally, our #1 Doubles team of Drew Galley and Jonathon Robb provide that experience element, as well as being co-captains of the team,” said Ruzziconi.
Together, the team is hoping to continue blazing the trail for future OHS tennis players and building a stronger, more established program. “We are excited for year two of the program and looking forward to having fun,” Ruzziconi added.