Norwood Boys Tennis is Swinging Harder

Christopher Tremblay
Issue Date: 
June, 2018
Article Body: 

It has been a struggle over the past few years for the Norwood boys tennis team in terms of victories. Last spring, the Mustang racketeers were only able to secure a single win playing in the Bay State League. Having only nine athletes on its roster, Coach John Churchill didn’t have the depth he needed to field a proper team. This year, things have changed in terms of numbers and the coach is hoping that the wins will follow suit.
This spring, Norwood posted the best numbers in some five years with 20 boys coming out for the team, and with the influx of athletes, Norwood has been able to put together a junior varsity as well as their regular varsity squad, which contains no seniors. Churchill be start two juniors, four sophomores and a freshman this year.
Apparently, the boys started spreading their enthusiasm for the game and it started attracting interest.
“For some reason, things panned out this year in terms of recruiting,” the coach said. “There is an optimism, in addition to this disciplined and committed team. With younger athletes getting involved and showing potential, it gives us hope that we can develop a team for the future.”
Playing singles for the Mustangs will be three of the four sophomores with TJ Sehm at the top spot, Tej Aryaputra at second and Alessandro DiCesare rounding it out. Of the three singles players, DiCesare has the least experience having the occasional start here and there last season. Although he is a very steady player, he has had trouble playing in big games, but he is working hard to develop his game.
Looking to lead the team are Sehm and Aryaputra, this year’s co-captains. While it is currently Sehm who is playing at number one singles, it could easily be Aryaputra. According to Churchill, there is not that much difference between the two and he does not consider them 1 and 2, but instead 1A and 1B.
Last year, Sehm came in with a lot of enthusiasm, but lacked the experience on the court. During the off-season he worked very hard to improve his game and was motivated to grab that available number one singles position, despite the toughness that comes with it.
“TJ came in looking to earn that top spot. Unfortunately he’s facing all older players at that number one singles position, but he is not intimidated,” Churchill said. “He sees it as an opportunity to grow and rise to the occasion even with his losses. In all my years (10), I have never had sophomore captains, never mind a sophomore, starting at number one singles.”
While Sehm was seeing action last year on the singles circuit, Aryaputra was playing first doubles for the Mustangs. Having an older brother who played for NHS, Aryaputra got to watch him play and started learning. Having gotten to play varsity tennis last year, he has taken his game up a notch this spring and the coach has noticed a lot of progress.
Currently the tandem of Sai Neduchezhian and Finn Kelley are in control of playing first doubles for the Mustangs after originally starting the season at second doubles. Although Kelley is new to the team, he does possess a natural ability and has improved his game playing with Neduchezhian. The more experienced Neduchezhian is playing in his third year on the team.
Sophomore Chris Cox and freshman Will Sehm round out the starters holding down the second doubles team. The two, who played together last summer to improve their game, came in as the team’s top two in doubles, but were overtaken in a challenge match and have not been able to regain that top spot.
Being a freshman, Sehm is still learning varsity tennis, but does bring a strong game to the courts and could possibly be a top singles player before he eventually graduates. Cox, still young, has a very strong serve and combined with Sehm they make a good team.”
“With both teams playing well together it gives us the strongest doubles teams we’ve had here at Norwood in quite a while,” the Mustang Coach said. “Depth has definitely helped us. We are winning at both doubles positions and playing competitively for the first time in five years.”
Playing in the BSL for the final time Norwood will be challenging once again competing against some tough tennis communities, but Norwood knows they’ve been closing the gap the past few years and are optimistic about joining the Tri-Valley League next season. Looking to get a look at some of the TVL teams, Norwood has scheduled matches against Norton and Ashland this year to initiate the measuring stick to where they may fit in to their new league come next spring.