High school tennis: Future bright for Mustangs
Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 26, 2020
East Rowan boys tennis
Coach: David Andrews (2nd season)
2019 record: 4-8 overall, 4-6 North Piedmont Conference (4th place)
2020 record: 1-3
Seniors: Rook Wetzel, Mario Garrido-Lecca
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan’s 1-3 start hadn’t discouraged coach David Andrews at all.
The reason for that? East was a handful of points from 3-1. The Mustangs lost 5-4 North Piedmont Conference contests to Carson and West Rowan, dropping both on tight doubles matches. But it was obvious that the Mustangs were much better in 2020 than they were in 2019.
“We were super-upset when the season was stopped,” Andrews said. “So many of our players had improved so much, and we’d added some good freshmen. We had a very good chance to finish higher than last season when were in fourth place.”
East is young. The Mustangs have no seniors in the top six, or even in the top nine.
“We’re blessed in that way,” Andrews said. “This was a tough spring, especially for senior athletes, but our top players are all young players. At least, they’ll have another chance.”
East was up 4-2 after singles against West Rowan, but couldn’t nail down that clinching doubles match. East lost 9-7 at No. 3 doubles.
East split singles with Carson, but lost at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. The No. 2 doubles match was 8-6.
Experience — court time together — is a huge factor in doubles. East has talent. Experience will come.
Junior Landon Shuping moved up from No. 2 to No. 1 this year, and was off to a 4-0 start, including a 6-2, 6-1 win against West Rowan’s Kevin Sullivan, a very solid No. 1.
“Landon had rolled through his singles matches,” Andrews said. “I felt like he was probably the best player in the county this year. It was going to be interesting to see how Landon did against Salisbury’s guy (Sean Archer).
No. 3 player Gavin McDaniel, a sophomore, had moved up after spending his freshman year playing No. 4 or No. 5. He was 3-1 in singles.
“He took lessons at the Country Club, and the improvement has been tremendous,” Andrews said. “He added power to his game.”
No. 6 seed Ryan Brady, a freshman, was 4-0 in singles.
“He’s going to be really good,” Andrews said.
The rest of the Mustangs’ top six (No. 2 Jaden Collins, No. 4 Drew Roane and No. 5 Garren Hudson) played important roles last season. All had improved.
“Jaden actually plays well in practice against Shuping, so it’s just a matter of time for him to put it together,” Andrews said. “Roane will be a college soccer player, but he’s improved a ton in tennis. Hudson is one of those guys that when he’s on, he’s really on.”
Roane was 2-1 in singles, while Collins and Hudson owned one singles win each when the season was stopped.
Doubles had been the issue.
Still, the future obviously is brighter for the Mustangs than the recent past.
South Iredell has ruled the NPC, going 22-0 since realignment, but East will be the Rowan team with the best chance to challenge the Vikings in 2021.
“That’s what we’re working toward,” Andrews said. “That’s the plan.”