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Kettle Run boys tennis season preview: Annual runner-up hopes to make title run

Friday, Mar. 27 | By Jeff Malmgren
Andrew Rainger is Kettle Run's new No. 1 singles player. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
He’s getting sick of second.

Kettle Run boys tennis coach Steve Sviatko hopes his Cougars can win the Conference 27 championship this spring after they were a runner-up each of the past three seasons during the regular season and postseason tournament.

Last season, the Cougars placed second in Conference 27 behind James Monroe. In 2013, they lost an extra tie-breaker match against Fauquier to determine the Evergreen regular season champion and then lost the tournament final to those same Falcons. That exact situation also played out in 2012.

“We’re very veteran heavy this year,” Sviatko said. “I have high expectations and they have expectations for themselves. They want to win.”

Kettle Run has three returning starters, including its No. 1 and 2 singles players, from a team that went 10-6 last season.

“I don’t want to say it’s win the conference or bust,” Sviatko said, “but I want a conference championship, and I want to advance instead of just [playing in] the quarterfinals in regionals.

The Cougars lost their first region quarterfinals match each of the past three seasons, so they’re still looking for their first region tennis semifinal appearance and their first conference-level championship.

“They have the opportunity to do something Kettle Run hasn't done before,” Sviatko said. “I think they have the ability.

“Especially the four seniors,” he said. “They don’t want their last year to be a letdown.”

It hasn’t been so far.

The Cougars have a 3-0 record thus far with a 1-0 mark in conference play after defeating Brentsville, 5-4, Monday on the road in Nokesville.

“We didn’t play our best tennis, but I felt confident after we won three singles matches,” Sviatko said.

The Cougars’ No. 1 singles player, senior Andrew Rainger, won 10-3, while senior No. 3 Connery Ryon won 10-7 and sophomore No. 5 Ethan Schmidt won 10-3. Senior No. 2 Nick Meding lost 10-6, senior No. 4 Tyler Polk lost 10-3 and junior KP Deliee lost 10-8.

In doubles action, Rainger and Meding won the No. 1 match 10-6 while Schmidt and Deliee won the No. 3 match 10-5. The No. 2 team of Ryon and Polk lost 10-5.

So Kettle Run remained undefeated after beginning the season with a 9-0 victory over Tuscarora and a 9-0 win against Liberty.

“Brentsville, they were actually a lot better than the others we’ve played,” Sviatko said. “They played strong, but mentally we had some lapses” too.

So only Rainger, Ryon and Schmidt have 3-0 singles records while the No. 1 and 3 doubles teams are also 3-0.

Rainger and Meding switched spots this season atop Kettle Run’s singles ladder. Meding was No. 1 last season with Rainger at No. 2.

“Andrew worked on his game a lot since last year,” Sviatko said. “He was constantly playing tennis. He wanted to be No. 1, and he earned that position.

“I think they have the opportunity … to go far in the region, if not the state,” Sviatko said of Rainger and Meding’s potential in the postseason singles tournaments.

Sviatko, of course, also hopes the Cougars will fare well as a team during the postseason.

“One through six, we’re very strong,” he said. “Last year I thought we had a good lineup, but this one is even better.”

Following last season, the Cougars lost No. 3 Ryan Powell, No. 4 Justin Smith and No. 5 Luke Schwenke. Deliee returned at No. 6 this season while Schmidt went from only a No. 3 doubles player to Kettle Run’s No. 5 singles player.

“Last season he had issues with his serve, but he's stepped up a lot,” Sviatko said. “He improved greatly over the summer.”

Ryon, meanwhile, is a first-year tennis player. He earned the No. 3 singles spot despite spending the past three springs with the Kettle Run track team. His dad Mike is the Kettle Run girls tennis coach.

The Cougars, a Class 3A member, were next scheduled to play 4A Eastern View on Thursday (after Fauquier Times deadlines).

“It'll gauge where we are,” Sviatko said. “I’m glad we're 3-0, but I want to see how we'll do against tougher teams.”

- - - - -

Starting lineup

1. Andrew Rainger, Sr.*
2. Nick Meding, Sr.*
3. Connery Ryon, Sr.
4. Tyler Polk, Sr.
5. Ethan Schmidt, So.
6. KP Deliee, Jr.*

*Returning starter

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