This was a good fall for Cathedral High School boys tennis.
The Irish played the entire season, and that was notable considering the COVID-19 circumstances that have surrounded athletics at all levels in recent months.
Mark Noe said the program succeeded in a big way on the court, too.
“We had a good season,” said Noe, in his 19th season as the program’s coach.
Irish boys tennis, long one of the state’s top high school boys tennis programs, was that again in 2020. The Irish finished No. 15 in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association state rankings, an improvement from their early-season ranking.
The Irish finished as the Section 48 runners-up to perennial state power North Central, losing in the sectional final 3-2 after beating North Central 3-2 during the regular season. The Irish also won the City Championship.
The Irish finished 13-6 in dual matches in 2020.
“It was a step forward,” Noe said of the narrow loss in the sectional final. “Their guys [at North Central] are tough to beat. We won both doubles straight sets, which was good. We knew it would be tough. We definitely want to beat them. We came close, but not close enough.”
The Irish No. 1 doubles team of senior Alex Pohl and sophomore Sam Black won the team sectional and advanced to the individual sectional round.
“They did a great job,” Noe said. “They performed real well. We’re very proud of those guys. Very proud.”
The Irish in 2020 were led by:
*Senior Levi Wojtalik, who went 15-6 at No. 1 singles. “He handled it very well,” Noe said of Wojtalik playing No. 1 after the team’s projected No. 1 player transferred. “He had some upsets. He had a lot of good wins.”
*Senior Isaac Michael at No. 2 singles. “They both had some upset wins, and they both played well,” Noe said of the top two singles players. “They were often automatic. They did a great job coming through for us.”
*Senior Andrew Davey at No. 3 singles.
*Pohl and Black at No. 1 doubles.
*Senior Eli Carroll and junior Fisher Van Rooy at No. 2 doubles.
Carroll and Van Rooy won the sectional at No. 2 doubles, completing a sectional doubles sweep for the Irish.
“It was a good season for sure – no doubt,” Noe said.
Significant for the Irish was that they played and completed the entire season. All 2020 spring high school sports had been canceled because of the pandemic, but Noe said the Irish played the entire schedule in the fall without incident.
“We were glad to get the entire season in,” Noe said. “It was touch and go for a while. Getting it in was the key and it was great to get everything in, for sure. We had no cancellations. It was great.”
As is the norm during Noe’s tenure, the Irish played one of the state’s toughest schedules. They lost to No. 1 Carmel, No. 3 North Central, No. 9 Fishers, No. 10 Hamilton Southeast twice and No. 12 Guerin Catholic and beat No. 3 North Central and No. 16 Fort Wayne Carroll.
“The program’s as good as the kids,” Noe said. “They want the challenge. We’re not going to change the schedule to get wins. That’s not what it’s about, for sure. There’s some big-time pride. They’re hard workers. I’m more than proud of them.”
Noe also said the program’s numbers remained strong in 2020, with 65 players trying out for the team with – as is Noe’s longstanding policy – no cuts. The result wasn’t an easy season, but Noe said it absolutely was an satisfying one.
“The boys played well,” Noe said. “We kept everybody and we managed it. It was good. We had a lot of great seniors that were great kids. The No. 1 thing was to get through the season without any COVID problems and we did that for sure. It was a blessing.
“Just to be playing, practicing, being back to school … even though we had masks on, it’s been interesting. But it was great to play the season. We were excited. We were loving it.”