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Bullitt East is still undefeated with a 4-0 start in boys' tennis

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By Mike Farner

MOUNT WASHINGTON - The Bullitt East boys’ tennis team is off to a quick start to the 2009 season, going undefeated through the first three weeks of the regular season.

The most recent win came on Thursday when coach Dustin Armstrong’s team traveled to Shepherdsville and beat Bullitt Central 5-0. The squad also has a 5-0 victory over North Bullitt earlier in the campaign.

The Chargers have also beaten Whitefield Academy 3-2 as well as Seneca 4-1. A match with Oldham County on Friday was rained out.

This is the second season for Armstrong as the head coach and most of his players return from last season including the top two singles players, senior Shane Milburn and sophomore Matt Phipps.

Against Bullitt Central on Thursday, Milburn beat senior Tyler Finley 6-2, 6-2 while Phipps turned back sophomore Louis Faust 6-0, 6-2. The third singles match went to eighth-grader Reese Milburn by a 6-3, 6-1 count over the Cougars’ Hunter Campbell, a freshman.

In doubles, Bullitt East’s top doubles team of seniors Matt Hamilton and Matt Okruch picked up a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Caleb Craddock and Trevor Edwards. In the number two doubles match, Christian St. John and Dalton Sego got the best of Cody Craddock and Evan Riggs 6-3, 7-6.

Amazingly, Shane Milburn won his tennis match on Thursday and then darted up to North Bullitt to compete in a track meet. This is actually, the fourth sport for Milburn this school year as he also played soccer and ran cross-country. In addition, he was a member of the Bullitt East archery team.

Younger brother Reese, played his tennis match and then headed to a middle school track meet.

After a year of growing, Armstrong thinks this group has a good chance at some success this spring.

“I expect to be one of the better teams in the region with seven players back from last year,” the coach said. “It’s tough with the Oldham County and Franklin County schools. They have good numbers and coaches. It will be tough, but I think we can do well in the region.”

The last four state champions have come out of this region in South Oldham graduate Eric Quigley who is now playing for the University of Kentucky. The Dragons finished in the top five of the team standings each of the past two seasons.

“We were scheduled to play Oldham County and we’re going to play North Oldham in a couple of weeks,” Armstrong said. “We’re not going to be able to play South Oldham. We’re also going to play Western Hills and Franklin County.

A day before beating Bullitt Central, the Chargers turned back Seneca 4-1 as the same players all won except for Shane Milburn who was taking on one of the better players in Jefferson County.

Armstrong has 12 players on the roster. Besides the seven players that took part in the matches last week, the squad also includes seniors Justin Warren and Davide Fellini who have played doubles this season. The rest of the roster includes junior Johnathan Bernard and first-year seniors Thomas Boykin and Ryan McMillen.

Bullitt Central Boys

It is a new season and a new era for tennis at Bullitt Central as head coach Michael Taylor takes over the program.

The new coach, who played college tennis himself, had 24 players try-out in February for the team. He kept 12 of those players.

Bad weather has hampered the team so far. In the only other match other than the one against Bullitt East on Thursday, the Cougars turned back Southern 4-1 back before spring break.

Taylor retired from working for UPS in 2007 and was a substitute teacher in the Bullitt County school system a year ago. This year he is the instructional tutor at Bullitt Central. He also owns his own computer-based business.

“I love tennis and I love to coach,” Taylor said when asked why he took on the job of building a program that has not had a lot of success over the past decade.

Being new, Taylor is taking it one step at a time.

“Our expectations are that we’re going to be ready for the regional,” he said during Thursday’s match. “We want to win some matches there. Obviously we’re building a program with the number of freshmen and sophomore that we have.”

For most of the players, this is their first competitive foray into the sport.

“Most of the guys have never played tennis,” the coach said. “Two guys have played and for the others it is the first time with a racquet.”

Besides the seven players that competed in the match on Thursday against Bullitt East, the other team members include senior Jesse Vittitoe, sophomores Miciah Ocasio and Michael Demko along with freshmen Randy Hurst and Cameron Heath.