By Chris Chaney
The Milford Eagles tennis team had an impressive season in 2013 and despite faltering down the stretch, still managed to place four individuals on the All-Eastern Cincinnati Conference All-Star team.
Beginning the year 9-0, second-year head coach Claire Smalley said that she couldn’t have been happier with the way things went in the early going. The Eagles walked over opponents through most of April, winning 9 of 11 team matches by going a combined 42-13 in individual matches over that stretch.
As far as the ECC went, all three of the Eagles team losses came in conference, somewhat burying Milford further down the standings than their play would otherwise indicate.
They finished the season at 9-3 overall and 3-3 in the league, earning themselves a fourth-place finish, despite having the third-best overall record in the league behind Loveland and Turpin.
“My No. 1 goal was to do better than we did last year and we’ve surpassed that by far,” Smalley said. “The league is so tough and such a good league to be a part of.”
Catalysts for the Eagles’ success were a trio of junior standouts that were named to the Second Team All-Conference.
First singles player Austin Hensley, a transfer from Batavia, led the Eagles with an 18-5 record. In his junior campaign, Hensley was a runner-up in the Division I Coaches’ Classic and ended his season in the quarterfinals of the Division I sectional tournament at Mason High School.
“(Austin) played really well,” Smalley said. “Playing first singles and having that record is very difficult because the competition is so tough.”
Hensley is joined on the Second Team by the Eagles’ doubles team of David Hacker and Andrew Huxell. The duo went 8-1 overall on the season and only dropped one match in league play.
Hacker and Huxell were second-round casualties in the sectional tournament.
The other Eagle represented on the All-Star roster was senior Andrew Beckerich. Beckerich was placed on the Honorable Mentions list for his play at second singles. Beckerich was 9-5 on the season in that slot and an even 2-2 in the ECC.
As for ECC rivals Glen Este, the Trojans had an interesting year due to some initial confusion as to what the team makeup would be. Given the pay-to-play measure in tact, the Trojans were unsure of whether or not there would be a team at all.
In the end, the Trojans suited up four players — Collin Couch, Sam Barrett, Kurt Cutshall and Ryan Stroup — and asked them to do the best they could despite having to forfeit at least two matches each time out.
Admirably, the Trojans conjured up a 4-6 overall record, but went 0-for the league.
Junior Collin Couch was named to the Honorable Mentions list for his play at first singles. Couch fought hard in the sectional tournament, representing Glen Este commendably, winning three matches before being ousted in the quarterfinals.