by SAM MEFFORD (Sports Editor) - August 21, 2021 - With a new school year come new opportunities for fall sports programs throughout the school. For head coach Anthony Peters of the Westfield Tennis program, the 2021 season marks another chance for the team to etch themselves into the Westfield history books.
The Rocks open up this year looking to avenge their highly contested sectional loss to Guerin last season. Peters, who teaches a variety of math classes at the high school, is in his fifth year at the helm of the program.
“When I got to Westfield, I don't think people took tennis as seriously as we are trying to take it now,” Peters explained. “If we’re gonna compete in this conference, we are gonna have to work hard and make year-round tennis a priority.”
Westfield loses four seniors from their starting lineup last year, including their one and two varsity singles players, but Coach Peters is optimistic about the players ready to fill in.
“We have had a lot of four-year varsity players graduate over the past two years, and so now this is kinda like that next generation and group of guys coming up. It will be interesting to see how they do, so it is an interesting time for us. We have a lot of guys competing for these spots and to be perfectly honest, I am not sure where our lineup is going to end up by the end of the season. We have a lot of guys who are hungry and have worked hard and are excited for the opportunity to compete and will do a good job for us.”
Senior Brett Barnes, the recipient of all-state honors the last two seasons playing varsity doubles, is ready to make the leap to the number one singles varsity position.
“The coaches have just given me the opportunity to constantly be playing tennis,” Barnes commented. “By practicing every day, I am able to gain [singles] experience and continue to work on my game. My teammates and I, we all like to joke with each other. We are building a winning culture here. We are all about winning at WHS.”
But Barnes is not the only man ready to make a jump this season. Upperclassmen Mitch Amenta, Trevor Ewing, Sawyer Strong, and Joe Barbera are also slated to get some of their first varsity action in the upcoming season.
“It will be interesting to see how [Brett] and some of the other guys do competing at their new positions, but I have a ton of confidence in them and think that it will be an awesome season,” Peters claimed. “With only five positions, every position is obviously important. We have eight guys at this current point who are fighting for four doubles spots, and for us to be a good team, we are going to need to have good doubles teams.”
Another upcoming player to look out for is junior Foster Edwards, who is looking to build off of his varsity singles success last season for the Rocks this year. Edwards believes that Coach Peters and his assistants played instrumental roles in helping him get ready for the season.
“[The coaches] have really gotten my mindset correct. I have been a lot smarter on the tennis court, which contributes to my success,” Edwards claims. Edwards and his teammates understand the importance of creating personal connections with one another. “We have a good team chemistry here so I think that really contributes. You will see a lot of talking between courts because we are almost like a brotherhood here, and that really contributes to winning.”
Westfield opened their regular season Tuesday evening with a match at North Central High School, in which the Rocks suffered a tough loss to a star-studded Panthers lineup, a team that is projected as a front-runner to win the 2021 state championship. Highlighting the match was a tightly-contested loss for Mitch Amenta in a tiebreaker set; however, the team is eager to return to action at the Saint Joseph tournament this weekend in South Bend.
“[The South Bend Trip] is the most fun every single year,” varsity doubles senior Joe Barbera argues. “We take a couple of guys, go to South Bend, spend the night in a hotel, and play some mini-golf. It's going to be a great time.”
Coach Peters is also anticipating this weekend’s competition, looking forward to the chance it provides him to analyze his squad.
“This weekend we go to South Bend for a tournament up there where we actually play four singles and four doubles, which gives us a little more flexibility to see guys playing extended matches,” Peters remarks.
Being in what is arguably the toughest sectional in the state, consisting of both Carmel and Guerin Catholic, it is unclear at this point how Westfield will fare against the competition; however, both the coaches and players remain confident in their abilities to compete with some of the best teams in the state.
“I certainly hope this is our year, and I think that it comes down to our seniors, and seeing the work that they are willing to put in to make it a great season for us. Hopefully, our guys are ready to run with it and have a great season!”
The winning culture that has been established within the Westfield Tennis program is here to stay for years to come, and the 2021 season for the Rocks looks to be no different.