It’s late May and that means that the Manual tennis season is nearing an end. Every season is concluded with, of course, the state tournament held in Lexington. The Crimsons faced numerous challenges this year, whether it was injuries or players quitting, but they still managed to end with a winning record and two teams playing at state.
From the start of the year, Coach Tim Smith, along with the rest of the team, knew it would be tough to uphold the legacy of Manual tennis. In the 2012-2013 season, five of the seven starters were seniors. At the time this was great because it meant there would be a lot of leadership and experience on the team. However, this posed a greater challenge for the underclassmen; filling the shoes of the departing seniors.
“Only 2 of the starters would be returning this year so we really relied on last years JV players to come up and hold their own in the lineup,” Jackson Hull (12) said, “it’s not easy to do, but with Smith’s coaching i knew we’d be able to do it.”
With a full head of steam the Crimson tennis team headed into the season with a superb work ethic and the utmost will to win, seeing as how Manual has been a top five team in the state for the past six years and to ruin that streak would be disappointing.
Seniors Trey Setser and Aaditya Manirajan were key elements in the Crimsons’ success. The two were varsity players in the previous season, but they were not in the starting lineup. Setser and Manirajan predominantly played doubles last year, which gave them the experience they needed to excel as varsity doubles starters in the 2014 season.
“Last year we had a doubles team that made it to the regional semifinal and the state round of 16. They were a very good doubles team but we had to move a team up this year to take their spot. Trey and Aaditya stepped up to the plate and ended up being a stronger doubles team than our previous seniors,” Dan Cobourn (12) said.
Setser and Manirajan brought Manual a regional semifinal and a state round of 16. Without their success Manual tennis would not have maintained the reputation that’s been built up over the years.
Other doubles team Dan Cobourn and Jackson Hull were returning varsity starters, already with a doubles state quarterfinal under their belt. The two have been 4-year varsity starters with a lot of experience at the high level of high school tennis.
“Dan and Jackson have always been solid players and they’ve improved tremendously over the years. They are the leaders of the team and have really brought a lot to Manual’s tennis team in their times here,” Coach Smith said.
Hull and Cobourn went into the tournament as a no. 5 seed for the second year in a row. They would end up making a regional semifinal and a state quarterfinal. This would be the second year in a row that they made a state quarter final.
As consistently successful players, Hull and Cobourn were granted one of the most prestigious honors in KHSAA tennis. The two were named on the 2014 all-state KHSAA tennis team. They were two of 15 players in the state to be named on this team.
“It was truly a great way to end my high school tennis career. It shows that all the practice paid off and I have something to show for all my hard work,” Hull said.
Manual tennis will lose another 7 seniors this year. The cycle of filling the seniors’ shoes is starting over. Stay tuned next year to see how the underclassmen of the Manual tennis team will step up and carry on Manual’s success.