This was a good start.
A solid foundation was laid for Cathedral High School boys tennis in 2021, which was one of the objectives in Jeff Giles’ first season as head coach.
Overcoming adversity and injury, and with a young team gaining valuable experience, Irish boys tennis – long one of Central Indiana’s top programs – spent the ’21 season ranked among Indiana’s top high school boys tennis programs. They capped the season with yet another City title.
“Overall, despite some early-season challenges, we ended up having a great season,” Giles said.
The Irish, who finished the 2021 regular season ranked No. 21 in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association rankings, swept Heritage Christian without losing a set to win the City Tournament. They then lost in the Section 48 semifinal to sectional champion North Central, 4-1.
Giles called winning the City “awesome.”
“They went 15 for 15 without losing a set,” Giles said.
The Irish overcame multiple sicknesses and injuries early in the season and had a different lineup in each of the season’s first seven matches. They then settled on a lineup with marked improvement.
“That was kind of tough to manage through in the first half of the season,” Giles said. “They ended up handling it really well. They were able to practice with those partners and there was camaraderie built. We plugged players in and there was a next-man up philosophy.
“We were pulling up guys from junior varsity to play on varsity and they stepped up well.”
The Irish in 2021 also continued a longstanding tradition of playing one of the state’s toughest schedules. The Irish registered victories over state-ranked Avon, Brebeuf Jesuit and Noblesville and lost to state-ranked Carmel, North Central, Floyd Central, Park Tudor and Homestead.
“Every year, we play one of the toughest schedules in the state and that continued this year,” Giles said. “We did end up playing some highly-ranked opponents early not necessarily at full strength. We had a match or two against highly-ranked opponents where we played different lineups and pulled guys from junior varsity. One of the highlights of the year was beating Brebeuf.”
The 2021 Irish as the season drew to a close were:
*No. 1 singles: Charlie Coleman (14-7), freshman.
*No. 2 singles: Sam Black (16-3), junior.
*No. 3 singles: Fisher Van Rooy (13-5), senior.
*No. 1 doubles: John Schneider, junior/Sam Hanchar, senior (4-4).
No. 2 doubles: Hank Smith, senior/Nick Schneider, sophomore (10-5).
“We’re fairly young,” Giles said. “We’ll have to replace three out of the seven. That’s worth noting. Compared to other teams, we were fairly young.”
Coleman went 14-7 playing No. 1, negotiating a schedule of some of the state’s top players – many of whom were upperclassmen.
“He’s an excellent player,” Giles said. “We have high aspirations, high goals for his four years. I was real happy with Charlie’s performance throughout the whole year. When you’re taking the best shot from the other team every night.”
Black at No. 2 and “had a great year,” Giles said.
The Irish accomplished that season while excelling in the classroom, with the seven top players combining for an average grade point average of 3.95. On the court and off the court, Giles said it was a season in which the Irish not only grew against quality competition, but set the tone to continue excelling against that competition in the future.
“Once we got through the first half of the season and settled on a consistent lineup, that was really key,” Giles said. “That was right around halfway through the season. Then, it was neat to see the doubles teams improve and the singles players stayed strong. We won a lot of matches to close out the year.
“Once we had a consistent lineup, it was nice to see them all improve throughout the year. We’re real excited about the future.”