Hazel Park High tennis team looking to get to next level

By: Christian Davis | Madison - Park News | Published September 18, 2015

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HAZEL PARK — The expectations have changed.

A year ago at this time, the Hazel Park High boys tennis program was in its infancy, just getting a restart after a dormant four years.

“Last year was kind of getting the hang of things, learning how to swing a racket,” returning junior Ryan Drew said. “This year is learning how to place the ball and get a solid serve in. There’s a lot more skill involved rather than just basics.”

The Vikings are still relatively inexperienced compared to more established programs. This is only the second year of organized tennis for the most seasoned members of the team.

Coach Cheryl Kelly, who revived the program last season, said she has 15-16 players on the roster, around the same as last year, and there is a good mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Kelly believes the program is here to stay.

“I’m really happy that it’s going so well. It’s always a struggle because it’s during the summer and you’re trying to get the kids out, but it all comes together. I’m surprised and really happy with the improvement,” she said. “Back then, they were just very inconsistent and didn’t have a whole lot of practice. Now, I have some kids that can hit it pretty well.”

The Vikings were 1-1 at press time, recently sweeping Clawson High in all eight flights. The Vikings hadn’t played a match yet in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

“They’re looking like a real tennis team, and I think we’ll be able to compete with some teams in our division,” Kelly said.

The team includes Drew, Jacob Miziko, Dylan Terpsma, Sean Thompson, Zack Sawtell, Brady Pananaan, Nolan Miziko, Josh Bylski, Jahleel Williams, Allen Hull, Jeff Jones, Cameron Harnden, Erik Reyna and Isaiah Marquez.

Kelly hopes her squad beats the teams it should and, with the stronger programs, competes and learns from each match.

Drew is looking forward to seeing how far his newfound game can take him.

“Last year, I was happy to return a ball when I was playing somebody. Now, getting it over isn’t good enough,” he said. “You have to focus on placing it in the corner, hitting short shots and long shots. Finding their weaknesses.”

Catch the Vikings against Southfield-Lathrup at 4 p.m. Sept. 23 on the road.

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