Bolton boys’ tennis swings into spring
By Felicia Whatley - Staff Writer
Bolton - posted Wed., Apr. 4, 2012
For a small school, the 14-member Bolton High School boys’ tennis team still brings fierce competition. Last year, they finished second at the conference level. This year, they are expected to do more of the same.
“We won 14 games and lost only four. I hope we do just as well this year,” said coach Mark Sanderson. “Avon is a tough team to beat, and we are at a disadvantage compared with their large student attendance. We won a lot of really close matches last year.”
BHS students expressed how much fun it is to play tennis for the school. “I like my teammates. They are many really nice people and it is fun to be with them. And I like the coach. He is great; he knows what he is doing,” said Bolton senior Rustyk Datsko, who plans to continue to play tennis at UConn. “We win a lot. We were second in the conference last year. It is always good to be on a winning team.”
Some of the star players to look out for are the coach’s top three singles players: #1 Datsko, #2 junior Billy Whedon, and #3 senior Sam Hillebrand.
“We have a young team, mostly sophomores. There is a big [learning] gap in singles to doubles,” said Hillebrand. “I am looking forward to my overall season and to compete in state.”
This is Sanderson’s second year leading the boys’ tennis team. He has been playing tennis for more than 40 years and says the longevity of the sport is one of the reasons why he loves it so much.
“Tennis is a sport to play all throughout life. I have enjoyed playing for 40 years. I want to promote that here,” said Sanderson.
One of the team captains, senior Nevin Ounpuu-Adams, weighed in on the possibility of playing in college. “This is my fourth year on the team. I have had so much fun playing, but I don’t think I am good enough to play for college. Being on a successful team has been a good point. I look forward to playing tennis in the spring with the guys,” said Ounpuu-Adams, part of the #1 doubles team, with Lucas Sansavarol.
Retention has been positive, despite the small numbers. What isn’t small is the team’s competitive attitude. “We got almost everyone back from last year; only a few graduated or left the team,” the coach said. “We have a really good group of kids. We have the same great line-up of singles. Ten of them play as singles, the rest as doubles. I think we have another strong chance to win.”
“Our team has great depth. Though many play as individuals, they all contributed as a team. This is a team sport, and Bolton is good about supporting us as we support each other,” said Sanderson.