Troy tennis boasts senior-laden team in 2011 campaign

By: Sue Teggart | Troy Times | Published September 7, 2011


TROY — Whenever a team loses one of its best players to injury, there is a period of initial shock.

So when Troy High’s boys tennis ace junior Brett Forman — last year’s Division 1 individual state champion — suffered a season-ending injury to his back in July, the Colts didn’t sit back and lament their loss.

In fact, Troy quickly adjusted to fill the No. 1 singles slot left by Forman showing that one player doesn't make the team.

“It’s something where I said we could sit there and talk about it, and dwell on it and worry about it, but that just tells me they’re only playing because of Brett,” Troy coach Eric Sturgis said. “These guys, to me, are good enough that they should all be able to step it up.”

Senior Noah Rice, who played No. 3 singles last year, was the immediate successor to Forman as the Colts new No. 1.

“It’s been tough, but somebody from the team had to do it,” Rice said. “I knew I had to be the one to takes Brett’s place. We knew before the season someone would have to step up, and I was the one to do it. There’s not much you can do to prepare (for No. 1 singles). I’ve had to learn to hit the ball harder and prepare for the ball to be hit harder in return. There’s not much time in between shots, so you have to be ready.”

“Noah was planning on playing No. 2 or No. 3 singles this year, and with Brett’s injury, he’s had to step up,” Sturgis said. “He’s made a great deal of improvement. He’s going out here and playing tough and doing all we can ask. That shows you a great leader.”

In fact, many of the players shifted positions to compensate for losing Forman.

“I’ve had to shift players around,” Sturgis said. “Everybody is playing a spot higher than they should, and they’re growing into the position.”

“Everyone has been doing a really good job with their new positions,” Rice said. “It was so unexpected for everyone on the team to lose Brett. People were expecting to come back to their past positions, but everyone is adjusting and working hard.”

The Colts have a stable of experienced players, including 10 healthy seniors. In singles, Troy has Rice and No. 2 singles player Sanjay Devireddy. In doubles, seniors Matt Kuntzman and Kento Misusaki are playing No. 1; Trevor Gohl anchors No. 2 doubles; Nick Fava and Mike Mendola pair at No. 3; and Shalin Shah makes up half of the No. 4 team.

“My doubles is coming together,” Sturgis said about his lineup. “My singles is going to have a harder time. My No. 3 and No. 4 singles are a junior (Saumil Shah) and sophomore (Vinai Reddy). They haven’t played singles in high school before. They’re coming along every match.”

Sturgis believes his senior-laden lineup will help down the road.

“I think it’s going to help us in leagues and regionals, and when it comes time for states just because they’ve played in those big games, they’ve been there, they know the experience,” he said.

Sturgis anticipates West Bloomfield High, Rochester Adams and Bloomfield Hills Andover to be the Colts’ toughest competition in the league. Regardless, he thinks Troy has the talent to contend.

“I still think we can win the league. I still think we can win regionals,” Sturgis said. “Our goal is just to play better every match and get to where we want to be when it comes to state tournament time.

“We’re taking it one match at a time.”