COVINGTON, Ind. – Move over Milan, the Covington High School boys’ tennis team is trying to move onto your turf.
Back in 1954, the Milan High basketball team made history by becoming the smallest team to ever win a single-class basketball tournament in the state of Indiana by defeating what would today be a 4A school in Muncie Central.
The Covington tennis team already made history on October 7 by becoming the first 1A-sized school to win a tennis regional in the 53 years that the IHSAA has held a one-class tennis tournament.
Two days later they added to that history by winning a semi-state title over Rushville by a 3-2 score.
Doing so put them into the state quarterfinals where they will play Zionsville, a 4A school in terms of boys’ basketball enrollment, on Friday.
The Trojans know all the numbers about this match such their school has 292 students versus 2153 for the Eagles (with the entire town of Covington totaling 2,439 residents).
They know that Zionsville is ranked #7 in the state while they are unranked.
They also know that all of those numbers do not matter – the only numbers that count are 1, 2 and 7 – singles, doubles and team members playing for each school.
Covington head coach Terry Field, in his 33rd year of coaching the boys’ tennis team (to go along with 28 years with the girls’ team) explained why his team is not ranked.
“We don’t get to play the big schools except in the tournament, so we don’t get any recognition,” he said. “We’ve proven we belong in the state tournament by winning our way into it.”
He and assistant Jim Persinger have convinced the team of that fact as senior 1-doubles player Nolan Potter stated the other night.
“Jim told us the only thing that matters is the player across the net from us – one guy in singles or two in doubles – the size of the rest of the school doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’ll go out there ready to play just like any other match.”
Field said his team has improved throughout the tournament and perhaps nothing has epitomized that more than the 2-doubles team of juniors Jackson Kindell and Emmett Reynolds.
The pair had struggled at times this season, but rose up to win one of the three matches that advanced Covington to the semi-state title.
“Coach pulled us aside and told us we could do it,” Reynolds said, with Kindell adding, “He put us into a good mindset going into the match.”
Field said his message to the team is a simple one, “Take care of what you can take care of and let the rest happen.”
Evan Norton, the junior 1-singles player for Covington, explained that mantra by saying, “If we weren’t good, we wouldn’t be here. So, how good they are doesn’t affect how good we are. No stats of theirs will effect our effort.”
Field said he had no concern about his team being ready to play and said the squad is not afraid of their upcoming opponent.
“We know we have to play our best game to-date, but that is every game when you get to this level,” he explained. “We’re working on little things now, like better serves and serve returns, getting to the net, hitting with a faster pace and things like that.”
Field believes that the team is playing not only for themselves but also for the community and for all the other small schools in the state.
“We had maybe 150 townspeople at our pep rally last night, had a good following at semi-state match and if we play well, other schools will say, ‘If Covington can do it, we can do it’.”
Potter said none of that puts pressure on the Trojans, saying, “We just going to go out and enjoy two or three sets of tennis. There’s no pressure on us. They pressure on them playing an unranked team. We’re just going to have fun.”
The remainder of the Covington team consists of senior Calvin Springer at 2-singles, freshman Urban Roarks at 3-singles, junior Myles Potter who teams up with his brother at 1-doubles and Peyt Shumaker, the No. 1 JV player who steps in when one of the varsity players is unable to play.