XENIA — Since it would be his final home tennis match, Xenia head coach Steve Cukovecki let his no. 1 singles player, Jate Bradley, pick which court to play on, in Monday’s May 6 nonleague tennis battle with visiting Legacy Christian.
On a normal day, the three Greene County Fairgrounds tennis courts nearest to the picnic shelter are used for singles matches.
This wasn’t a normal day.
Cukovecki brought up seniors from his junior varsity team to play alongside the seniors on the varsity squad for an almost all-senior lineup against the visiting Knights. … and Bradley chose a typically used doubles court in the very back left of the facility for his final home match.
The change of match venue didn’t have any kind of effect on the Buccaneers, as they rolled to a 4-1 win.
“On that first singles court, it always messes with me, and it feels like the net is higher, so I just wanted to play my match back here,” Bradley said, explaining his move.
Bradley won in straight sets 6-1, 6-0 over Legacy senior Will Hess, who played well in the loss. Senior Alex Robinson claimed a straight-set win over LCA freshman John Day, who’s racket broke during the match, and Bucs senior Wade Hutchinson battled with the Knights’ Sammie Lomelin for a 6-4, 6-1 win as Xenia swept the three singles matches.
Hutchinson is a four-year letter winner with the Bucs. Robinson is playing his second season.
In doubles, the Legacy tandem of Trevor Irwin and Halacie Oliver defeated Xenia seniors Shali Morris and Sammy Price 6-0, 6-0 to earn the lone Knights win of the evening.
In another match that was closer than its score, the Bucs duo of junior Chris Jones and senior Caroline Prindle claimed a 6-1, 6-0 win over Legacy Christian’s Maddie Combs-Abby Day combo. Their match was the second-to-last to finish, as nearly every game went to deuce several times before being decided.
Legacy co-coach Les Rose felt good about the way his team played, despite the loss.
“We were very competitive today, and there were some loooong matches. We went to deuce a lot, so they’re definitely getting better. Tournament is in a couple days, we’re all looking forward to that. And if we can keep these kids in the program for next season, I think we’ll be a whole lot better then too,” he said.
Division I and II first-round sectional tournament matches are scheduled for Thursday, May 9 at Centerville High School. Xenia will be competing in the Division I tournament; LCA is in Division II.
Xenia coach Steve Cukovecki said he saw his inexperience bunch of Bucs develop as the season wore on. A late-season loss to division rival Fairborn prevented them from winning the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s South division.
“We got out here an everybody started gelling right away,” Cukovecki said. “At about the third match of the season, everybody started finding their groove. It was an unfortunate loss against Fairborn last week, but as a team they’ve done really really well.
“I saw a lot of positives with this team, and I look forward to seeing them grow next season, too.”
Moments after his win, Bradley said he felt the same way about this Buccaneers team.
“Everybody has improved since Day 1, we’ve all gotten ourselves out here and put in a lot of work,” Bradley said. “By the end of the season, you can see a lot of changes and growth. And we had a good time doing it, too.”
Having fun is the most important part of it all.