Entering this season, first-year Marvin Ridge boys tennis coach Julie van Olden said there was a surplus of questions surrounding her Mavs squad and a shortage of answers. After all, five of last season’s six top players that led the Mavs to a Class 3A runner-up finish and an 18-3 record had graduated. Due to solid roster numbers over the past few seasons, van Olden knew there would be a relative amount of depth to fill out her lineup, but wasn’t sure about how strong her team would be at the all-important top spots.
But freshman George Lovitt soon provided the solution.
“It was wonderful to see George come out and hit (during tryouts),” said van Olden. “He just blew away everyone.
“Glimpsing him from that first day, it was like, ‘Yes! This is going to be a great season!’”
What followed was one of the most impressive freshman seasons in recent Union County history. After earning the top spot in the Mavs’ lineup, Lovitt led led Marvin Ridge to a 14-2 record and the third round of the Class 3A playoffs. Individually, he compiled an 18-3 overall singles record, including an 8-0 mark in Southern Carolina 3A/4A conference play in which he won 96 of his 106 total games played. Lovitt also advanced to the Class 3A singles tournament, where he fell in the second round to the eventual state champion, Robert Kelly of Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons.
For his precocious performance, Lovitt is Union County Weekly’s 2013 Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
Lovitt said that, although he was placed in a pressure-packed situation by earning the Mavs’ No. 1 spot, he used it as motivation to make the most of his opportunity.
“From the start I had confidence I could do well and play well at my line and help the team out,” Lovitt said. “I just tried to stay focused (on the fact) that I have a team here and I need to win.”
Lovitt began playing tennis when he was 4, but split his time with hockey until three years ago. While the sports are in many ways polar opposites, Lovitt said his time on the ice has directly contributed to his success on the court.
“I think footwork-wise, it really helped,” Lovitt said. “There are similar moves you have to make with starting and stopping. I think hockey definitely helped my tennis movements. I think that’s why I’m a quick tennis player.”
And, like his beginnings in hockey, Lovitt hopes his freshman season at Marvin Ridge has set him up for even bigger things in the future.
“I think they’re going to be good, possibly better,” said Lovitt of the years to come. “I hope to do better and possibly win states and stuff like that, and try to take my teams to the finals and try to win it. I definitely think that’s possible in the next three years.”