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The Nordonia High School boys tennis team only lost a few players to graduation last year. As a result, the Knights are positioned well for more progress and success in 2017.
The three players that Nordonia lost were David Testa, Sean Collins, and Alex Stephan. However, Testa was the only one who saw extensive playing time at the varsity level.
Nordonia finished the 2016 season with an overall record of 5-14. The Knights were also 1-6 in the National Division of the Suburban League.
According to Nordonia head coach Ryan Vehar, the starting lineup is not 100 percent set yet. On the bright side, though, there are more knowns than unknowns heading into the new campaign.
Senior Shawn Iyer will start at one of the singles slots for Nordonia, as will sophomore Mark Kazmarek. Iyer missed part of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Also returning is the first doubles team of juniors Mitch Ehrman and Spencer Harp. Senior Tyler Mattei, who was primarily a doubles player a year ago, is also back for the Knights.
There are three other seniors on the varsity roster for the 2017 season. Those three are Nick Pedone, Kyle Greer and Cody Dodds. In addition, Ethan Lee is a junior and in his third year on the team, while Robert Novak is a sophomore in his second year.
"We haven't had the best of weather, so we haven't been hitting and playing a lot outside," said Nordonia head coach Ryan Vehar. "It hasn't been the greatest three weeks of practice leading up to the season in that regard. We'll get the team set in the right direction this week."
Vehar is confident that the Knights possess the talent and experience necessary to exceed the success of last year's squad.
"We'll be ready to compete out there," he said. "We're in a work in progress, but we have a couple of guys with experience. We just have to plug in some new faces and get some guys opportunities."
Competition in the National Division of the Suburban League will once again be tough. However, Vehar is eager to see what the Knights can do.
"Hudson, Brecksville, and Wadsworth are among the top teams," said Vehar. "We're just trying to see where we fit in with the rest of the teams. We're always striving to get to the level of the best teams in our conference."
Jason Stepp is this year's junior varsity coach. Stepp is also the varsity boys soccer coach at Nordonia. Josh Bertolone will serve as an assistant coach at both the varsity and JV levels.
Nordonia's first match of the 2017 campaign was originally slated to be against non-league opponent Crestwood at home March 28. Unfortunately, that contest was cancelled due to commitments that the Crestwood players had over spring break. It's not known if the match will be made up.
As a result, the Knights will kick off the new season March 29, at non-conference foe Barberton at 4 p.m. On March 30 at 4 p.m., Nordonia will travel to another non-conference opponent Medina Highland.