BY GREG FLINT
---- — COVINGTON, Ind. — The match between Fountain Central and Covington marked the midpoint of the Mustangs’ regular season. After defeating the Trojans 4-1, the team has a record of 4-5 and 2-0 in the Wabash River Conference.
“We open the season with almost a Sagamore Conference schedule,” said Fountain Central head coach Chris Webb. “We played North Montgomery, Southmont and Western Boone — all big schools.”
Webb has been rotating his lineup early this season as he prepares to go into the bulk of the WRC season.
“We had some freshmen join us that have given us some flexibility,” said Webb. “Dallas Other has stepped in at 2-doubles and that allowed me to experiment with Doug Keeling.”
Keeling had spent his previous seasons playing doubles, but Webb said he tried him early at singles before moving him back to doubles thanks to the choices that the freshmen and other returners with limited varsity experience gave him.
“We are somewhat streaky this year,” said Webb about his team. “We have improved from day one of practice, but we aren’t always better from one match to the next. That’s what happens when you are somewhat inexperienced.”
One player who is anything but inexperienced is Kody Keeling at 1-singles. The senior started out two years ago as someone whose lone strength was his ability to return just about any shot according to his coach.
“He’s learned a lot in the last couple of years and now has pretty much seen everything,” said Webb. “He can do more than just win points — he can construct them now — he can create points.”
For Covington coach Terry Field, the season has been a bit rougher than for Webb. His team started the year short-handed, as some of his players did not have enough practices to be eligible to play in the early matches.
“Tonight was the first night that we’ve had everybody eligible,” said Field. “We’ve got nine players now who can play for us.”
This is a significant step forward as Field tries to rebuild a program that has battled the numbers game in the past few years. Last season the Trojans had to forfeit a match in every contest because they did not have the seven players necessary to fill all the positions on the team.
“This is a great group to work with,” said Field. “They are constantly working to improve.”
Field, like Webb, has been experimenting with his line-up as the additional players gained their eligibility.
“Right now Amit [Shah], Brendan Woolwine and Kyle Cates are playing 3-singles and 1-doubles for us,” he explained. “We’re trying to see where they are most effective.”
Field said his team is better than last year, but lacks experience.
“We’re getting better, but we really just need to play more tennis. We should continue to get better as the season progresses.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org