Updated: Dec 6, 2022
With a win over Richmond Monday afternoon, the Armada boys tennis team clinched the regular season title going 5-0 in conference play. The Tigers swept the league competition, winning each match 8-0.
“It’s pretty crazy,” head coach Tom Reuter said. “This could be finally our time to make it to states.”
What’s more, the Tigers have won each of their four quads as well, defeating teams such as Notre Dame Prep, Sterling Heights Stevenson, and Sandusky. While many of these schools have had recent success at the state finals, Armada hasn’t qualified for the tournament since 2015, making this season’s potential extra special.
So what excatly is so special about this squad?
“First and foremost, we have five seniors so that in itself is a huge addition,” Reuter said. “The thing I’ve always said…is that we do summer hitting and that’s just huge. The high school season is so [short]. Once you can start practicing, you’re already in your first match.
“If you get kids that are…coming in and hitting a couple days a week or more for five weeks in the summer, that’s huge.”
From No. 1 singles to No. 4 doubles, Armada has played 128 individual matches so far this fall and as a team, the Tigers are a combined 117-11.
Senior Nolan Hill leads the way at No. 1 singles as a player who Reuter said might not “dazzle you,” but has the patience and talent to play with anyone. He stands 14-2 on the season and his younger brother, sophomore Jaret Hill, is unbeaten at 16-0 in the No. 4 singles spot.
Seniors Parker Westfall and Jim Burns each stand 15-1 at the No. 2 and No. 3 singles spots, respectively. Westfall had to battle especially hard to maintain his success at the beginning of the season, winning three of his first four matches in a third-set tiebreaker.
Armada’s No. 1 doubles duo of senior Colton Smith and junior Jack Davis have led the league for the last couple of years and have continued this season at 14-2 overall.
At No. 2 doubles, senior Ty Vanlerberghe and junior Jacob Meerschaert remain unbeaten at 16-0. Reuter said the pair continues to surprise opponents with their tennis IQ and chemistry on the court.
“They’re just so smart and talk so well that they win,” Reuter said. “I just sit there and shake my head, and even their parents shake their heads, saying, ‘Man, these guys just play so well together and hit the right shots.’”
Jacob Dean, a sophomore who just picked up a racket for the first time this summer, has brought “uncanny athletic ability” at the No. 3 doubles spot alongside junior Drew Blake, according to Reuter. Together they’ve gone 15-1 on the season, falling only to Goodrich in their first match.
And at No. 4 doubles sophomores Nathan Merzlak and Colten Germundson have succeeded at 12-4, picking up key points for the team throughout conference play and at weekend quads.
The Tigers will host one last quad before the BWAC tournament scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1 and soon after, the regional tournament on Oct. 5.
“These quads are going to give us the practice we need going into regionals and hopefully states,” Reuter said.