BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Cameron Manuel does not hit many backhands, but he does not need to.
The Tippecanoe Valley senior runs around to his forehand every chance he gets, and once he gets there, he usually puts his opponent on the defensive.
As a result, he is our RTC Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
This was something of a new year at both of our area tennis-playing schools. Thadd Mellott was in his first season as Valley coach, and Mason Heyde was in his first full season as Rochester coach.
Both teams had to reconfigure their rosters after graduation losses.
With Valley no longer in the Three Rivers Conference, there were fewer common opponents for the teams.
Ultimately, we picked Manuel based on his win over Tanner Reinartz early in the season and his consistency all year.
We would like to thank area coaches and observers for their insights. Still, this list is ours and ours alone based on hours spent on the courts, and we take full responsibility for this list.
Cameron Manuel (Tippecanoe Valley) (Player of the Year) – Not only does Manuel have a consistently accurate forehand, but he also has a good serve, and he’s extremely well-conditioned, which served him well in three-set matches. And to be fair, he hit more backhands this year than he did in previous years, and he was much improved at it when he did use it.
Tanner Reinartz (Rochester) – Reinartz’s aggressive, serve-and-volley style is a standout in the age where many players sit behind the baseline just hoping to extend points. And his kick serve made a big jump – literally and figuratively – this year.
Robert Bozzo (Rochester) – Bozzo made the switch from doubles to singles, and he looked comfortable at No. 2. He would often hit angled shots and run his opponent all over the court before usually finding open spots for winners.
Ian Cooksey-DeOndre Hamilton (Tippecanoe Valley) – This team came together towards the end of the season, and the 6-3 Cooksey and the 6-2 Hamilton both were an imposing presence at the net.
Harrison Dunwoody-Brady Morgan (Rochester) – While the aforementioned Valley team came together later in the season, this Rochester duo’s best efforts came early and ended abruptly due to Morgan’s season-ending injury. Heyde experimented with a number of duos at both No.1 and No. 2 doubles, but we thought Dunwoody’s power and Morgan’s touch was the best.
Honorable mention singles
Tristyn Ragon (Tippecanoe Valley)
Honorable mention doubles
Carter Merideth-Jack Reffett (Rochester)
Tanner Reinartz Robert Bozzo Ian Cooksey
DeOndre Hamilton Harrison Dunwoody Brady Morgan