The atmosphere gets much thinner where Marvin Ridge’s tennis team dwells atop the sport’s landscape at the high school level. The Mavericks are on a quest for their third consecutive N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A state title.
They are off to a strong start with shutout victories against South Meck and Concord and a narrow, 5-4, win over last season’s N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A state champion, Carmel Christian.
The Mavericks will face another difficult nonconference test before it steps into the meat of league play when it hosts Charlotte Catholic on Monday, March 20.
It appears Weddington might be the Mavs’ greatest obstacle in the conference and possibly beyond. Marvin Ridge will face the Warriors on March 28 and April 20. Those could be pivotal dates in deciding the conference championship, but it belongs to the Mavericks until they’re dethroned.
“This is a fun year, because we know that to get to states we’ll have to work really hard,” Marvin Ridge coach Julie van Olden said. “There’s a lot more of that fun pressure, that intensity. Last year was great to have the ride that we had, but it was more expected. This year, we’re back to having to work really hard and earn it.”
The George Lovitt era is over in Marvin. Lovitt, who not only dominated Union County, but the state, too, took his talents to the University of Minnesota. His departure left a major void, but senior John Hatala (Fairfield University signee) has moved from No. 2 to the top spot in the Mavs’ singles lineup. He is thriving in the new role with his aggressive approach.
Senior Michael Kronovet anchors the No. 2 spot for the Mavs. Senior Chris Graveline, who was seventh on the team last year, has moved up to No. 3 in the singles lineup. Sophomore Ethan Traub also cracked the singles lineup at the No. 4 spot. Senior Zach Schwartz has moved up from No. 6 to No. 5, while junior Sammy Marks is new to the lineup as the sixth man.
Van Olden, who is in her fifth year at the helm, is trying to establish her team’s doubles pairings.
“It’s been nice to get some of our seniors up into the lineup,” van Olden said. “We’ve always had good depth, so it’s been nice to pull some of those guys up into the top lineup.”
“There’s so much strength all the way down the line and still good depth. That’s nice to have. A lot of teams would have to rebuild after losing a one and three. We’re still strong.”