Boys Tennis: Marian Catholic expecting bigger things this seasonMarian Catholic's Julian Childers returns a backhand during practice at the Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet Club Tuesday, March 6, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 12, 2012 7:45PM
The 2011 season was a campaign of firsts for Marian Catholic’s boys tennis program.
The Spartans won their first conference and sectional titles in the school’s 53 years, while also finishing a program-best 12th at the state meet.
Returning the core of the 2011 team, Marian is poised to have an even better season.
How good could it be?
“For sure a top-10 finish at state,” senior Josh Pinkus said. “The way everyone is playing, it could definitely happen. The way Mitch (Zavesky) and Kyle (Scheffers) play together, how good Julian (Childers) is, and maybe some other players getting points at state, it could get us into the top 10.”
The Spartans have the players in both singles and doubles to accomplish the feat. Coach Scott Bodnar was an assistant for 12 seasons before taking over head coaching duties in 2002. For Bodnar, this is the deepest, most skilled team he’s coached.
“This is a very deep senior group with a lot of talent,” Bodnar said. “More than talent, they like what they’re doing and work hard. It’s easy to think they’ll get better. It’s individual, but they’re a pretty good team with good leadership.”
Success starts at the top with No. 1 singles player Julian Childers, a three-time state qualifier. Last season as a junior, Childers was seeded 9-16 at the state tournament, where he won six matches before losing in the consolation semifinals.
In his three state visits, Childers has won 14 matches. He is ranked the fourth-best senior in the state and is being recruited by several Big Ten schools.
“Julian just doesn’t like to lose, and that’s a good quality to have,” Bodnar said. “He can definitely finish higher than he did last year.”
Pinkus will play No. 2 singles for Marian, with Zavesky and Scheffers teaming up at No. 1 doubles for the second straight season. Last season, the duo won three matches at state.
Zavesky is a three-time state qualifier, having qualified with three different partners. Not having to start over with a new partner, familiarity definitely is a positive.
“Kyle is the most skilled partner I’ve had,” Zavesky said. “We know how to work well together. It’s an understanding thing, almost a telepathy thing. We know where to be and where the other player will be.”
A sophomore, Scheffers hopes to build on the experience he gained as a freshman crashing the state meet.
“I’m excited for this season,” Scheffers said. “The experience will help us play that much better. We’ve gotten to know each other’s games since last year so we’ll be able to take that knowledge into matches this year.”
Filling out the lineup for Marian will be seniors Nico Moorman, Trevor Thompkins, Paul DeBustros, Everett Senetar and Liam Kroning; junior Tim Lavelle and sophomore Patrick Murday.
With the whole season in front of them, Zavesky and his teammates hope to go out on top.
“We only missed 10th place by a couple of points, and it might only take a match or two to put us over,” he said. “You only get one shot.”