The St. Patrick boys tennis team has seen their fair share of success during the 2018 season as they enter a big stretch come Friday.
The doubles team of brothers Logan and Evan Kalb sit at 5-0 on the season and could enter next week’s regional tournament with one of the top seeds if they do well in the coming days. The other doubles team of Ben Swolsky and Paul Muehlbauer are 3-1. Singles players Jake Swolsky and Pat McKay are a combined 4-1 while seventh grader Peyton Schumacher is waiting in the wings.
The Kalb’s are hungry. They just missed a state tournament appearance last season, losing in a tiebreaker of the region tournament quarterfinals, one match away from qualifying for the state tournament.
“They were really torn up over last year, losing in the tiebreak” coach Bettsy Kalb said, who is also their mother. “We’ve got one tennis trophy in our halls at school, a runner-up trophy at region by Kelly Blakefield and Shannon Turner I believe. I passed it one day with them and said we want this. They said no, ‘We want the winners trophy.’”
That’s the winning mindset the Saints have brought to the courts. A combined 12-2 record from the prior mentioned players has proved that.
As the team approaches big matches over the next five days against George Rogers Clark, Harrison County, Campbell County, Montgomery County and Highlands, they’ll have a chance to show their worth against some of the top players in the region.
With the Kalb’s, their communication, ground strokes and net play have improved from a season ago and have them primed for a possible trip to the state tournament in Lexington. A solid stretch over the next few days could even earn them the No. 1 overall seed for the regional tournament.
“They have the potential. If they can beat Campbell, they have a shot at a No. 1 seed, assuming they beat the others,” Bettsy Kalb said.
As for Ben Swolsky and Muehlbauer, the doubles partners are enjoying their first year together on the court. Swolsky features a big frame at 6-foot-6 and plays at the net while Muehlbauer utilizes his footwork along the baseline.
“This is Ben’s first year playing competitively, he’s played recreationally and comes from an athletic family. Anything with a ball, they do well,” Kalb said.
Muehlbauer didn’t have a chance to play last season as he dealt with a foot injury that lingered on from basketball season. The duo also has aspirations to make it to state.
“You never know, depending on how these matches go they have a possibility,” Kalb said.
Ben’s younger brother Jake is 2-1 on the year and Kalb describes the sophomore as “the most improved player”.
“He has great potential and I hope he sticks with it. He moves really well around the court,” Kalb said. “The Swolsky’s have the prototypical tennis bodies as both are tall and lean and move well which gives them a big advantage.”
McKay will round out the boys’ team that will be playing in the regional tournament come next Friday. He sits at 2-0 on the year as he fought off an injury at the beginning of the season.
“He’s an aggressive player and really wants to win,” Kalb said.
After the busy five-day stretch they enter, comes the regional meeting Wednesday to determine seeding. Then they’ll get their chance come next Friday to see what they can do in Mount Sterling.
“It will be a first time for so many of them, they’re really excited,” Kalb said.