Chargers continue on top of local boys tennis encounters

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By Mike Farner

    MOUNT WASHINGTON - With a strong combination of a transfer student, some foreign exchange players and an already impressive core group of players, Bullitt East boys’ tennis coach Dustin Armstrong has high hopes for the 2010 season.

    The timing appears to be working out just fine for the Chargers. The always tough Eighth Region, while still formidable, is not quite as strong this year as in the recent past. No Bullitt County boys’ player has reached the state tournament since the local schools moved to the Eighth Region five years ago.

    Bullitt East has already rolled past North Bullitt twice this spring as well as picking up a win over Bullitt Central.

    “This should be my strongest team yet,” Armstrong said early in his third season as the head coach.

    The transfer student is senior Andrew Barrett who will play in the number one singles spot this season. He had been playing at Whitefield Academy, but shifted to Bullitt East during the school year. His father is a teacher at Bullitt East.

    “Just having Andrew raises our program,” Armstrong said. “He brings a lot of talent to us.”

    Barrett will share the singles honors this season with junior Matt Phipps, giving the Chargers a strong one-two punch at the top of the line-up.

    The Eighth Region Tournament will not be until the third week of May so nothing has been set in cement just yet in terms of the final two singles spots and certainly not the two doubles teams that will form the squad for the post-season.

    Armstrong also has three foreign exchange students on the team this spring. They will fill in at various spots. Andreas Kustaas from Norway has been playing in the number three singles spot quite a bit and has also played some doubles, often with freshman Evan Reister.

    Carlos del Viejo, from Spain, has been teaming up with freshman Reese Milburn to form the number one doubles team. Milburn is playing both tennis and running track at Bullitt East this spring.

    Early in the season Armstrong was thinking his number two doubles team would be senior Christian St. John and freshman Dalton Sego. The third foreign exchange student is Viktor Hjorth, who is from Sweden, and he has filled in at the number three singles spot a few times.

    Last week, Armstrong also got match time for Ryan Allen in the number two doubles team with Kustaas.

    “They wanted to come out. They came to me,” Armstrong said of the foreign exchange students. “They are interested in other things, but they enjoy tennis.”

    Unlike many of the players in Bullitt County, Barrett and Phipps play tennis year-round. Sego, St. John and Milburn have also competed in USTA Leagues at various times outside of the high school season.

    “A good season would be to win the region,” Armstrong pointed out. “That will be tough with the Oldham County schools and Franklin County and Western Hills. We definitely want to challenge those teams. We haven’t done that the last few years.

    “We have more talent this year,” the coach added. “It’s more attainable.”

    In action last week coming out of spring break, Bullitt East beat Eighth Region rivals Trimble County and Gallatin County by 5-0 scores.

On Friday, the red and gold turned back North Bullitt 5-0. Barrett beat Dylan Crenshaw 6-0, 6-0 while Phipps beat Sam Druen 6-0, 6-1. Sego played in the number three singles spot and beat Isaac Heines 8-1.

    In doubles, del Viejo nd Milburn beat Zach Campamoar and Dylan Greer 6-1, 6-0 while Kustaas and Allen teamed up to defeat Kyle Warden and Trey Harley 6-0, 6-1.

North Bullitt

    North Bullitt head coach Monica Clark has very few little experience this season, but does have 13 team members. That means that a lot of positions are up for grabs for players that want to put in the effort.

    In fact, the top three players in the chase for the two singles spots were shuffled all around between the first two meetings with Bullitt East. During the first week of the season, junior Sam Druen played in the number one spot with Heines, a freshman, at number two and Crenshaw, a junior, at number three.

    “We do have some battle for the top spots,” Clark said early in the season. “There is very little skill difference in the top three singles players.”

    The other ten players in the program will battle for the four spots on the two doubles teams. Eight of those ten players are freshmen.

    The two older players are Zach Campamoar, a junior, and sophomore Jacob Ashby. The big freshmen group includes Evan Simms, Kyle Warden, Lucas Johnson, Andrew Mills, Trey Harvey, Dylan Greer, Austin Hellman and Justin Clayton.

    “It could change a lot,” Clark said of the players on the court early in the season and those that could play in the post-season. “Most of them are just spring guys. Isaac plays some out of season.

    “Realistically, I would like for the team to develop a good skill level,” the coach added. “They need an understanding of the game and to progress and get better. We can win some matches. We can be competitive in our area. If we can learn with each match, even lose and learn, that will be good.”

Bullitt Central

    At one point, second-year Bullitt Central head coach Mike Taylor had 42 players signed up for his program. Of course, that number doesn’t work at a school with two tennis courts. The number was trimmed down to 14.

    Taylor’s team has a handful of basketball players so there is some athletic talent, but there is very little experience. That will mean that most of the regular season will be used to find the right pieces to the puzzle to put a team together for regional play.

    Early in the season, sophomore Hunter Campbell was put into the number one singles spot while junior Evan Riggs was fill the second court. Senior Cody Craddock, a returning player from last year, as well as junior Miciah Ocasio, were also battling for playing time in singles.

    Junior Louis Faust played in the number one singles spot a year ago, but Taylor was starting the season with him in the number one doubles court along with sophomore Caleb Craddock. Two seniors, Nathan Griffith and Chase Cline were playing as the number two doubles team.

    Junior Dylan Fowler could also challenge for playing time.

    Taylor pointed out that most of his players only compete in tennis in the spring high school season. He is hoping to get some of the players into USTA Leagues as that group is making a push to recruit some of the younger players in Bullitt County.

    “We’re still in the learning process,” Taylor said of his team. “What we want to be ready for is the region tournament. We’re still trying to find out who is better at each position.”