SPRINGVILLE—The 2018 version of the Springville’s boys tennis team differed from previous seasons in many ways, but the most obvious one to onlookers was the number of participants.
Not only did the team improve its performance on the court, but competition for the seven playing spots magnified. The result was a runner-up team finish in the division, advancement in individual post-season play not seen in years and an interest level in the sport unprecedented.
“Generally once kids try it, they get hooked. Every season brings a new set of athletes, and then word-of-mouth is our best recruiting tool,” head coach Frank Noeson said. “I think that Coach (Ryan) Dygert did an excellent job recruiting some of the kids from swimming and diving. Others had tried it a couple years ago and came back, while some just decided to give it a shot. Tennis is a fun, yet very challenging sport to do correctly and to get good at.”
Dygert, who doubles as an assistant coach in tennis in the spring and swimming in the winter, also had a lot to do with having the first Springville tennis player in more than a decade advancing past the first round in post-season play in the Erie County Interscholastic Conference Championships.
The team’s number one singles player, Michael Spagnola, admits the best challenges he got in practice last season came from Dygert.
“I play with [Dygert] sometimes and we go back-and-forth with games, but usually I’m a little better than him. But he still gives me a better game than anyone else on the team,” said Spagnola, who attributes that along with his tennis activities during the year as the biggest reasons why he was able to be the first Griffin in a decade to advance to the second round of ECIC competition.
Spagnola, who plays most of his summer tennis at the Hickory Hill Swim and Tennis Club, has now joined the ranks as an instructor at the Orchard Park facility.
As the junior starts to think about playing at the collegiate level, part of his strategy to prepare for his senior season will include a higher frequency of winter play as well as year-round tournaments.
Springville’s second-place finish this past season may well blossom into a title in 2019 when school enrollment numbers force the team into a lower division, although they handled themselves quite well last season in ECIC-II.
The team went 10-5 overall and 7-5 in their division. The only team that had a command over Springville – as well as the rest of the division – was East Aurora, who went undefeated at 12-0.
A dozen different players saw game action last season from the 20 players on the roster. Of those, only Spagnola and Maxx Solly competed in singles play exclusively, with Spagnola recording nine wins and Solly eight.
Grant Karb and Matt Sion competed in singles and doubles play with Karb posting a 10-3 combined record to Sion’s 9-4.
Connor Hughey competed in first doubles only and posted an 8-5 record, while Wyatt Cudney and Scott Russell split time at both doubles positions and lost just two matches each with Cudney recording 13 wins and Russell 11.
Five other players rotated in the lineup during the season with a 4-5 collective record that included Mike Place, Zach Hughey, Wyatt Fuller, Nathan Myers and Jackson Richert.
Post-season awards went to Spagnola as the most valuable player, Karb as the most improved player award and Cudney as the Joseph Krohn Memorial Award winner for sportsmanship, character and dedication.