Creston/O-M tennis is in a state of transition, following a banner campaign by the senior-dominated boys team, and the emergence of a promising young girls squad.
Both teams were honored at the program’s postseason banquet Wednesday night at Taylor Park.
Six of the seven boys letterwinners are seniors from one of the most successful periods in the program’s history. They are Colby Taylor, Bryce McIlravy, Adam Bochart, Jacob Caviness, Ryan Cook and Logan Angelo. Austin Hurt was also a senior on the 2013 squad.
The only returning letterman is junior Garret Taylor, the No. 3 player in this year’s lineup behind Taylor and McIlravy, who formed a state-qualifying doubles team.
“The guys in this senior class were set up perfectly the past two or three years,” coach Kevin Cooper said. “Back to back final eights (state finishes), that’s a great accomplishment. They went 7-4 in duals. They beat Norwalk in the first round of the postseason, and Atlantic in the second round. Atlantic was a good win for us, because early on in the year they started our season off wrong.”
Red Oak defeated the Panthers to earn a spot in the team state tournament, where they placed fourth. Creston/O-M was also third in the Hawkeye 10 Tournament.
Taylor and McIlravy earned a Hawkeye 10 doubles championship during their career, and earned the program’s first state qualification since 2006 by making the doubles field this year in Waterloo. Cooper noted that Taylor and Bochart came close to joining them in state doubles.
“I think there are districts out there that Adam and Garret would have qualified in,” Cooper said. “I know it’s a goal for Garret to get to state next year, either in singles or doubles. There’s nobody who spends more time out at the courts than he does.”
The girls team went 4-5 in duals and earned a postseason victory over Saydel, the first such win “in quite a while” according to Cooper. He credited assistant coach Amanda Plymale, a former Boone High School player, for helping the girls team develop this season.
“We tied for fifth at the Hawkeye 10,” Cooper noted, “and going into the year I didn’t know what to expect. We took girls who have never gone there before, so that was encouraging for us. Caitlin (McIlravy) and Jenna (Taylor) ended up fourth in districts in doubles and played in the semifinals as freshmen. The team only graduates one player (Emma Johnson). They are really a year ahead of where I thought they would be. They have a great chance to be successful the next three years.”
Five of the six letterwinners return next year, including No. 1 player Audrey Fyock, a junior, and sophomore Ashley Harris. Freshmen Alli Thomsen, Taylor and McIlravy earned letters as first-year players.
Cooper said a rebuilding process is under way for the boys team.
“We have 10 to 12 girls coming back,” Cooper said, “but only five guys coming back. We need to find more. I talk to kids all the time who come out as a junior or sophomore, and they say I didn’t know I was going to have this much fun, or I would have come out a long time ago.”
Cooper said some of the players are helping instruct “about 85” youngsters in the weekly tennis program on Tuesdays, and some are entered in USTA tournaments.
Both Panther teams earned academic awards. The girls earned the state award for having a team GPA between 3.6 and 4.0, while the boys earned an award for being between 3.2 and 4.0.
Seniors — Logan Angelo (1), Adam Bochart (4), Jacob Caviness (1), Ryan Cook (2), Bryce McIlravy (4), Colby Taylor (4).
Juniors — Garret Taylor (2).
Participation awards — Chantz Davidson, Austin Hurt, Ryan Kucera, Daniel Scott, Tyler Waddingham.
Seniors — Emma Johnson (4).
Juniors — Audrey Fyock (3).
Sophomores — Ashley Harris (2).
Freshmen — Caitlin McIlravy (1), Jenna Taylor (1), Alli Thomsen (1).
Participation awards — Cassandra Anderson, Sydney Dunphy, Danielle Fundermann, Gracie Russell, Angela Sorensen, Ann Waigand.