After three years of finishing in second place, the St. Andrew's boys' tennis team is now the 2013 champion of boys's high school tennis in Delaware.
Head coach Peter Hoopes said the school has a long tradition of excellence in tennis. "I think there's been historical success, and, of course success breeds success. I think we are successful because we teach the important fundamentals of the game to our athletes," he said.
Hoopes said every school pays attention to their singles players, but they may not spend much time with their doubles players. "Many singles players have innate talent, but with doubles it's important to coach the kids how to play the game, when to hit the ball hard, when to lob, and where to hit the ball on the court. And I believe you can create good doubles players by teaching them fundamentals and the mental aspects of the game," he said.
Hoopes, now in his 8th year of coaching, said that in addition to winning the title, one of the highlights of the season was beating rival Tower Hill. "During the regular season, we lost a close match to them by a score of 3-2, then later, we beat them 4-1, and that was a confidence builder for us, and from there we knew we would have a strong team," he said.
As for the recent DIAA championships at the University of Delaware, Pep Ruckpanich and Reed McLaurin beat Caesar Rodney in first doubles in three sets. It was Ruckpanich's fourth doubles championship. The second doubles team of Ryan Chiu and Doug McLaurin beat Tower Hill in three sets. Riley McDonough was victorious at second doubles and Jasper Haritz won third singles.
"I couldn't be prouder of these guys," said Hoopes. "They set a goal early in the year and did everything they could to meet it. Extra practices, conditioning in the off season, even focusing on their mental approach to matches. They worked for everything they received."
This was the 11th state championship for boys' tennis since 1984, and the second highest point total in championship history (25).
The Cardinals will lose several players through graduation, but Hoopes said that with a lot of hard work and dedication, the team should be competitive again in 2014.
"We don't get a lot of beginners at St. Andrews, and it's not a team of 'rich kids'. We teach our athletes the game of tennis, and how to play it well," concluded Hoopes.