Demons tennis team overcomes court plague
It seemed all the "elements" for a special Westlake men’s tennis season had aligned. Newly constructed courts, the return of a top player, an experienced, senior-laden lineup with a track record of success on-court and in the classroom, and a schedule of challenging opponents.
However problems with the newly reconstructed high school courts forced the Demons men’s tennis team to return to the home courts of the last few seasons at the Westlake Rec Center. The first match of the spring on March 31 welcomed the netters back with bitter cold.
In a 3-hour battle fought in temperatures better suited for ice hockey, the varsity opened the season against perennial power Copley. The first 4 matches were split, leaving the score 2 apiece. The first doubles team was still on-court as the final hope to get the needed third victory to enable new coach Saumil Jhaveri to launch his coaching tenure with a victory.
The senior tandem of captain Thomas Reusser and partner Ameesh Shah held on to win the first set in a tiebreaker but then lost a close second set. The final set would be tension filled. Reusser and Shah held a match point at 5-4 but could not close it out, and then seemed on the verge of defeat as they fell behind 5-6 and faced match point against. They came up big and evened the match at 6-all, forcing a deciding tiebreaker which they ended up winning 7-3.
Coach Jhaveri said after the match, "I don't think I will be able to make it through the season if all the matches are as exciting as this!"
For the second match of the season on April 1, the team went on the road and faced no untoward court conditions while subduing Rocky River, 5-0.
The theme of the early season continued as problems with the courts in Hudson forced a change of venue to Westlake. However, conditions on the home courts were also less than ideal. After several days of torrential rain, water, sludge and leaves required the courts to undergo a few hours of maintenance before the April 8 competition. On match-day, the rain held off but fog enveloped the courts at times making for some very unusual match play conditions. The play itself, however, was stellar.
Connor Michelich really got in gear over-powering a very tough, consistent and experienced opponent while controlling the match throughout to come out on top over Dominic Polifrone, 6-2, 6-1. Despite the cold temperatures, emotions ran hot as Aris Jhaveri unleashed his fiery brand of play and shouted encouragement to his teammates battling on adjacent courts. Aris prevailed, 6-0, 6-3, and his energy seemed to help singles teammate Cal Craven turn the tide as he stormed back from a 2-4 second set deficit to win. The final team score was 4-1 Westlake over a highly skilled Hudson team.
The final match of the early season was April 10 against Lake Ridge Academy, and again the home field provided yet another chapter in the tennis book of inhospitable court conditions. After a day of high winds, the team arrived to find the courts blanketed in red leaf buds from the surrounding trees. Fortunately the team grounds crew swept away the debris and the Demons’ racquets swept away Lake Ridge in dominant fashion, 5-0. Fairview transfer Matt Hom provided the highlight of the day, jumping into the singles lineup and using an arsenal of shots in an immaculate performance to win, 6-0, 6-0.
Thankfully court conditions were not an issue on April 11th at the Paramount Westlake Tennis Center where the 4-0 Demons competed indoors in the 8-team St. Edward Invitational Tournament. The team had their most successful finish in years, placing second only to an elite New Albany team from Columbus.
Westlake resident since 1998, married, 2 kids who attend westkake schools, work at Rainbow as pediatrician