With four returning letterwinners on each squad, hopes are high for the resurgent Creston/O-M tennis program.
Kevin Cooper, in his 13th year with the program and 10th as head coach, is assisted this year by second-grade teacher Amanda Plymale. She is a former player at Boone High School.
Returning to the varsity lineup for the Panther boys team this year are seniors Colby Taylor, Bryce McIlravy and Adam Bochart and junior Garret Taylor. Graduating from last year’s 5-3 team that placed fifth in the Hawkeye 10 tournament were No. 1 player Ryan Hanson and No. 4 player Dylan Hower.
It was a stellar postseason for the Panthers, who took second place at the district meet, then beat Ballard in a home substate match and Red Oak to earn a position in the top eight in the state, before losing to Boone in the substate final at Harlan. Boone went on to place third in the state tournament.
It was the first team substate appearance for a Creston team since 2006, and it was the farthest a Panther team has gone in postseason play since the 1988 state tourney team. Along the way was the first victory over Red Oak since the 1989 Hawkeye 10 championship team.
The doubles team of Taylor and McIlravy placed third in the district — one victory from state qualification — and won a conference title. Taylor and Bochart secured dramatic 5-4 doubles victories against Ballard and Red Oak in team substate wins.
“It’s safe to say that the boys and I have lofty goals for this year’s team,” Cooper said. “They got a taste of success with their substate victory last year over Red Oak. We are in the mix for being toward the top of the conference. We have two tournaments in April that will give us an early look at how we stand as a team.”
Cooper is looking for the Panthers to start successfully against Atlantic, Clarinda, Corning and Audubon during the first two weeks. The opener is Thursday at Atlantic.
“How we perform in the month of April determines our path in May,” Cooper said.
With Taylor, McIlravy, Bochart and Taylor owning the top four positions, Cooper needs to fill two varsity positions from a field including returning players Ryan Cook, Daniel Scott, Logan Angelo, Jacob Caviness, Chantz Davidson and Tyler Waddingham.
The girls team lost Siera Jones and Angela Phipps from the top of the lineup, and varsity regular Abbey Bakerink.
Returning letterwinners are seniors Emma Johnson and Amy Dunphy, junior Audrey Fyock and sophomore Ashley Harris.
So, from a field of junior Harper Spurrier and nine freshmen, two will end up filling varsity positions.
“This is going to be an exciting year for our girls team,” Cooper said. “We have four girls coming back with varsity experience. These girls have a chance to move up the ladder and compete at both the conference and district levels.”
Cooper expects the Hawkeye 10 to be stacked with talent on the girls side, as Red Oak, Glenwood, Clarinda and Shenandoah figure to fight for the top positions. Last year, Creston/O-M was 4-6 and placed sixth in the conference.
“We play all four of those top teams this year in our duals, which will be a great experience for our younger girls,” Cooper said. “It’s going to be an ongoing learning process for them. They form the building blocks of some good years to come for Creston girls tennis.”
Creston/O-M Boys Tennis
Seniors — *Colby Taylor, *Bryce McIlravy, *Adam Bochart, Ryan Cook, Jacob Caviness, Logan Angelo, Austin Hurt.
Juniors — *Garret Taylor, Chantz Davidson, Daniel Scott.
Sophomores — Tyler Waddingham.
Freshmen — Ryan Kucera.
April 4 — at Atlantic, 4:30 p.m.
April 8 — at Corning, 4 p.m.
April 15 — vs. Clarinda, 4:30 p.m.
April 18 — vs. Audubon, 4:30 p.m.
April 20 — at Saydel Tournament, 9 a.m.
April 22 — at Glenwood, 4:30 p.m.
April 25 — at Shenandoah, 4:30 p.m.
April 26 — at Osceola Clarke, 4:30 p.m.
April 27 — at Atlantic Tournament, 9 a.m.
April 29 — vs. Red Oak, 4:30 p.m.
April 30 — vs. Chariton, 4:30 p.m.
Mai 6 — Hawkeye 10 at Harlan, 9 a.m.
Creston/O-M Girls Tennis
Seniors — *Emma Johnson, *Amy Dunphy.
Juniors — *Audrey Fyock, Harper Spurrier.
Sophomores — *Ashley Harris.
Freshmen — Caitlin McIlravy, Sydney Dunphy, Jenna Taylor, Gracie Russell, Angela Sorensen, Alli Thomsen, Cassandra Anderson, Danielle Fundermann, Ann Waigand.
April 4 — vs. Atlantic, 4:30 p.m.
April 8 — vs. Corning, 4 p.m.
April 15 — at Clarinda, 4:30 p.m.
April 18 — at Audubon, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 — vs. Glenwood, 4:30 p.m.
April 25 — vs. Shenandoah, 4:30 p.m.
April 26 — vs. Osceola Clarke, 4:30 p.m.
April 29 — at Red Oak, 4:30 p.m.
April 30 — at Chariton, 4:30 p.m.
May 13 — at Carroll Kuemper, 9 a.m.
May 16 — Regional, to be announced