E.O. Smith boys’ tennis looks to repeat championship

By Kathryn Elliott - ReminderNews
Storrs - posted Thu., Apr. 28, 2011
John Brvenik, of the E.O. Smith boys’ tennis team, returns a serve in the April 21 match against Bolton. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.
John Brvenik, of the E.O. Smith boys’ tennis team, returns a serve in the April 21 match against Bolton. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.

Tennis weather does not typically include 37-degree temperatures and 30-mile-per-hour winds; but such was the case for the E.O. Smith High School boys’ tennis team in its April 21 match against Bolton. Insulated in thermal wear more suited for skiing, coach Josh Burns and his team took to the courts – grateful for the chance to keep moving, and keep warm.

Led by captains John Mindek and Joe Willenborg, the Panthers are off to a 3-3 start with victories over Northwest Catholic (5-2), Killingly (7-0) and Bolton(4-3). “I would say our greatest strength as a team is the depth of our roster,” Burns said. “We have been without three of our starting players for the last five matches, however we have a great group of young men who have stepped up and played their hearts out.”

Conference champions in 2010, the Panthers graduated five seniors – significantly impacting the team for 2011. New to E.O. Smith, Burns quickly isolated areas in which the players needed improvement. “Seeing this is my first year with the team, I cannot compare our performance to last season,” he said. “However, the number-one thing I would like to see improve is our play at the net.”

Burns does not view any specific team as a direct rival to E.O. Smith, and commented on the season ahead. “I look forward to a very challenging schedule in which we will be sure to give every opponent our best effort,” he said.

A complete schedule can be found at www.casciac.org.



Coach’s Corner-

E.O. Smith High School Boys' Tennis Head Coach Josh Burns

Number of season with this team: 1

Assistant Coach: Max Silbart

The season ahead: “Our goal is to continue to work hard to improve our overall tennis skills and utilize those skills to repeat as conference champions,” Burns said.

Upcoming matches: May 6 vs. Bristol Central (Home); May 9 vs. Rocky Hill (Away); May 16 vs. Fermi (Home).


Spotlight Players-

John Brvenik – Junior: "Johnny B. is a young man who is extremely committed to the sport of tennis.” Burns said. “He provides our team with a player at the number-one singles position who can compete with any opponent in the state and possesses a very well-rounded tennis game in which the skillful placement of his shots is very impressive.” Brvenik has been playing tennis for 11 years and has also run on the cross-country team.


John Mindek – Senior: “John is one of our senior captains, and has assisted me in more ways than I can explain,” coach said. “He is a young man full of character and his competitive drive makes him a very entertaining player to watch. I look forward to John anchoring our number-one doubles team.” Mindek has been playing tennis for six years and also competes in both football and basketball. He plans on attending Western New England College to study business.

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