This is a tough team, a resilient team.
If Jeff Giles didn’t already know that about Cathedral High School boys tennis in 2022, an impressive midseason stretch assured him it was true.
The Irish fought through adversity during that time, changing the course of the season against a difficult midseason schedule and helping the Irish – long of Central Indiana’s top boys tennis programs – prepare for what is expected to be a challenging postseason.
“We’re starting to pick it up and improve,” Giles said in mid-September.
Giles, in his second season as the Irish’s head coach, said the Irish fought through early-season sickness to play some of their best tennis against a difficult early-September schedule.
This came after a tricky early-season stretch. They lost their first two matches to No. 19-ranked Avon and No. 2 Carmel with No. 2 Sam Black out because of an illness, then lost to three state-ranked teams – Park Tudor (No. 10), Brebeuf (No. 11) and Center Grove (No. 7) – to slip to 1-5 before rallying to win nine of their next 11 matches.
The Irish were 10-7 as of September 15, and were ranked 13th in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association poll at the time.
“We battled early, but it was what it was,” Giles said. “It was a rocky, slow start, but we recovered nicely.”
The Irish during their season-altering streak beat Carrol (No. 12), then beat No. 15 Floyd Central. They also sustained a narrow 3-2 loss to No. 6 Columbus North in the Columbus North invitational. They also went 2-1 at the Fort Wayne Invitational, finishing third in an eight-team field.
“We got some quality wins, some decent wins, along the way,” Giles said. “We had some matches that were pretty close to upsets, too.”
And while the Irish play in the perennially tough Section 48 that also includes perennial local and state power North Central, Giles said the Irish are playing better as the postseason approaches. The Irish’s Senior Week begins September 16, with the sectional tournament scheduled for North Central September 27-October 1.
“That’s always a tough draw,” Giles said. “They’ve been a Top 5 team all season. It’s not going to be easy. We’re certainly peaking at the right time. We’re playing better. As a coach, that’s what you want to see.”
The 2022 Irish boys tennis team features 12 seniors and a varsity lineup of:
*Charlie Coleman, No. 1 singles. Giles said Coleman has handled the always-tough No. 1 singles position well. “He’s had some big wins and a couple of close losses as well,” Giles said.
*Sam Black, No. 2 singles, senior.
*Chris Wojtalik, No. 3 singles, freshman.
*Senior John Schneider and junior Nick Schneider, No. 1 doubles.
*Junior Drew Whalen and junior Jackson Reed, No. 2 doubles.
“They’ve been working hard, and coming together as a team,” Giles said. “We knew it would flip at some point in time. Where we kind of made the transition was at the first invitational. We started to gel a lot more as a team, and came close to knocking off Homestead. We went to dinner afterward and had a great meal and team-building ride home.
“The team chemistry kind of flipped right then. It was awesome to see.”
Giles said the Irish enter their late-season stretch strong in singles, with Coleman and Black playing well and improving, and Wojtalik developing quickly and becoming a solid No. 3 singles player as the season has continued.
“It’s a good group, a fun group,” Giles said. “They support each other. They’ve been fun to coach. We’ve really seen in the last few weeks the team chemistry improve. We’re looking forward to coaching out this season.”