CH Tennis keeps rolling
Boys team surpasses halfway mark, still unbeaten at 8-0
COLONIAL HEIGHTS - Overall, they're young. But they still have experience on their side.
And so far, they've been dominant.
The Colonials Boys Tennis team is more than halfway through its 15-match regular season. The Colonials have played eight team matches, and they've won all eight.
Coming off a 12-4 season, an underclassman-heavy group was back to lead the charge this year.
But Chase Bennett the only senior on the team and one of the players in the Colonials' top six - said he knew that they'd be experienced, with three to four of the juniors having played with the team since eighth grade.
“I knew going into the season we weren't gonna have that much trouble getting back into form,” Bennett said.
“We're a deep and experienced team - our top 5's been on the team for the last three years,” junior and #3 Pritesh Singh said. “They know how it works and know what we need to do coming into the season.
“I know we lost our #1 (from last year), but everyone else just moved up in that experience and skill level,” sophomore and #1 Yusef Qazi said.
The Colonials were entering 2018 with a new head coach in Ray Sells, who took over after Michael Smielecki, and had worked with the team towards the end of the 2017 season under Smielecki.
Sells pointed to his players' dedication, saying that just about every one of the Colonials' returners do some type of training over the summer.
“They enjoy tennis, they love being out here - offdays, they come out here, Spring Break they were out here playing,
some of them were playing two times a day," Sells said. "Their hard work... right now, they're just reaping the benefits of it."
The team spoke to improving upon consistency throughout positions 1 through 6 and accepting their step-up to the next position.
"Last year we were playing not to lose," Singh added. "But this year we're hungry for success."
"We're pretty good enough to beat teams like York and Tabb and other people in our region," Qazi said. "Once we cross that mental obstacle, I think we can really succeed."
And for the Colonials, going 15-0 is among their goals.
"It'd be extremely important - as this is my senior year, I was [as a freshman] a part of the
team that made it all the way to the state qualifiers, and that season we went undefeated all the way up into the regional championship," Bennett said.
"To feel that undefeated feeling and carrying that into regionals...would just lift us up and carry us through the regional playoffs."
Scofield said that he and Singh were eighth graders on the Colonials team that went undefeated.
"The best feeling was to put up a banner over there...and to see what the team has done in the past," Scofield said, "and now that we're in the top six and with the quality of a team that we have, we can do those same things. And to know that, just brings us more confidence and gives us more
of a strive to do what we know we can do.
The team has beaten its first eight opponents by 6-3 or better. The Colonials won a 6-3 match over New Kent and a 7-2 match over Matoaca, a team they've lost to the past two years.
"Just beating them 7-2, it's really a confidence booster," Qazi said.
"And that's one of the main reasons we're [8-0] right now," Scofield added.
"That's carried over into each and every match and hopefully it'll carry over into [today] as well."
But with postseason tournaments less than a month away, Sells noted they need to keep improving more upon consistency and keep getting down the fundamentals.
And the players did note that playing teams in reigonals is another task.
"Each match that we take during the season is one step towards that goal," Scofield said, "and to treat every match as it's a regionals match is I think the most important thing for us to do in upcoming matchups."
The Colonials, having beaten Prince George on Monday at 9-0, rematches Matoaca today (Tuesday, April 17) at Matoaca High School at 4:30 p.m. They'll then play Prince George again on Thursday, April 19.
“It’d be extremely important - as this is my senior year, I was [as a freshman] a part of the team that made it all the way to the state qualifiers, and that season we went undefeated all the way up into the regional championship.”
Chase Bennett, Colonial Heights senior tennis player
Colonial Heights Boys Tennis player Pritesh Singh, seen here serving the ball in last Thursday’s home match versus Hopewell, is a part of the Colonials team that is currently 8-0 heading into the second half of the regular season.