Boys Tennis: Veteran trio, coaches return to lead Canal Winchester Indians

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Canal Winchester senior Jake Chapman is one of three returnees from the 2019 season for the boys tennis team.

Some familiar faces return atop the lineup of the Canal Winchester boys tennis, and two familiar faces came back this season to guide them.

Seniors Jake Chapman and Jeremy Irby and junior Greyson Dunbar are back from the 2019 team that went 6-8 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Capital Division. Chapman and Irby fell just short of advancing to the Division I district tournament.

“(In addition to those three,) we’re very fortunate to have added some multi-sport athletes and some interested younger students,” first-year coach Jill Welsh said. “This is a very competitive group hungry to improve and win matches. I’m having so much fun coaching these fine young men, as they’re as stellar off the court as they are on the court.”

Welsh coached the girls tennis team from 2016-19 and was an assistant boys coach from 2017-19 while her husband, Doug, was head coach. Both sat out the last season, and Doug had been slated to return as boys head coach before he and Jill recently swapped roles.

Mark Chapman, who also is the girls basketball coach, led the boys tennis team last year before the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Irby played second singles as a sophomore, while Chapman moved between third singles and first doubles. Dunbar saw spot time on varsity as a freshman, playing two matches at second doubles with 2019 graduate Drew Adams.

Among those new to the team are seniors Jack Jenkins and Luke Twiss and juniors Mark Hatley, Jameson Hippler and Andrew Miles. All five are experienced in other sports, however.

Jenkins is an Ohio Dominican recruit in soccer; Twiss plays both soccer and basketball; Miles plays basketball, Hatley plays soccer and Hippler is on the golf team.

Despite being in his first season on the team, Twiss was named a co-captain along with Chapman.

“(Chapman and Twiss) define ‘leadership,’” Welsh said.

Hippler, Jenkins, Miles, Twiss and junior Kai Filio are rotating at doubles, and Hatley and freshman Braydon Todd are vying for singles spots.

INSIDE THE INDIANS

•Coach: Jill Welsh, first season

•Next match: April 15 vs. Westerville North

•Key athletes: Jake Chapman, Greyson Dunbar, Mark Hatley, Jeremy Irby and Jack Jenkins

Cruisers rebuilding

around returnees

Groveport Madison returns two players from 2019 in senior Zach Copeland and junior Jason Robertson, and both will play in the same positions as two years ago with Copeland at first singles and Robertson at first doubles.

Copeland was one of six sophomores two years ago as the Cruisers finished 2-9 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Capital.

Coach Scott Wilson entered his second season having to recruit enough players to fill the team.

“Once they get here, we can teach them. We’ve spent a lot of time helping them learn the game. Almost everybody is brand new, and not just to high school tennis but to tennis, period,” Wilson said. “It will be another rebuilding year, trying to get the younger guys experience. Hopefully we can get them to come back.”

Robertson teamed with his older sister, senior Casey Humphrey, at first doubles to start the season. Humphrey was the girls basketball team’s top player, averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 steals and being named honorable mention all-district.

Juniors Isa Suzuki and A.J. Gacnik played second and third singles, respectively, to start the season, and sophomore Kameron Grayson and freshman Jerry Saunders played second doubles.

Junior Cameron Uptegraft, sophomore Massar Yade and freshman Gabriel Uptegraft  also are vying for time in the lineup.

“(Copeland) is a good leader. It’s good for the other kids to watch his work ethic. He comes in every day ready to practice and ready to play,” Wilson said. “I’m rotating everybody in. I can’t justify only playing seven on varsity. Everybody will play.”

INSIDE THE CRUISERS

•Coach: Scott Wilson, second season

•Next match: April 15 at Lancaster

•Key athletes: Zach Copeland, A.J. Gacnik, Casey Humphrey, Jason Robertson and Isa Suzuki

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave