A year ago, the Eaton Rapids boys’ tennis team was pretty young. In fact the Greyhounds had 10 underclassmen and just one senior on the roster.
“Our senior did an excellent job of leading the team and our young guys improved drastically,” third year head coach Jake Crandell said. “It was definitely a growing year, but we became more and more competitive as the year went on.”
There is still plenty of season left to be played, but Crandell can already see the benefits of his returning players having a year of experience and a crop of talented newcomers.
“This year has been a good year for the program,” he said. “We had an influx of guys of varying experience levels, and it has made the team stronger as a whole. We are still fairly young, and the guys are using their time this year to push each other to higher levels. They are improving every day and learning how to play competitively.”
With nearly 20 athletes coming to practices and meets each day, it has created quite the environment for the team. One that their coach is really happy to be a part of.
“One of my favorite things from this season is our numbers and our growth as a program,” Crandell said. “We have 17 guys on our roster this year and it’s a good group to work with. I’ve also enjoyed watching some of our younger guys step up as leaders here and there. That’s a credit to them and to our senior leader last year showing the team what’s expected of a leader.”
Sophomore Isaac Hokanson has been playing first singles this year. Despite going up against many juniors and seniors, he has held his own.
“Last year he played first doubles as a freshman, so he’s seen some competitive play, but first singles this season has been a different challenge,” Crandell said. “He has stepped up well and has become more and more comfortable in his new role, pushing more experienced players to three sets a few times already.”
At first doubles is the junior duo of Charley Sawyer and Lincoln Woodcock.
“They have had a great season so far and are consistently getting better as a doubles team,” Crandell said. “They picked up a very close three set win against a good Lansing Catholic team a couple weeks ago.”
Of course, with so many members on the team this year, those aren’t the only athletes making in impact on the team.
“We are proud of the team this year and the direction we are heading,” Crandell said. “Still fairly young, so learning how to compete, especially late in third set matches. We’ve had a few matches already this season where we dropped a handful of third sets. So, we are right there, just need to clean up a few things and some of those team results end up much closer.”
Eaton Rapids is scheduled to play at Marshall on Monday, Sept. 18, hosts Charlotte on Wednesday, Sept. 20 and hosts Lansing Waverly on Sept. 25.
“(We want to) consistently keep improving as a team and as a program,” Crandell said of the rest of the season. “We’re moving in the right direction.”