New coach, new faces make up Aurora boys tennis roster
Aurora boys tennis will look to simply compete this spring and give the athletes an opportunity to engage on the courts rather than sit on the sidelines.
The Greenmen program has been relishing this moment as COVID-19 made the 2020 tennis season a wash. In lieu of that lost season, teams and coaches are focusing on practice sessions to learn what they have from the past two incoming classes as well as veterans that may have seen varsity action from the 2019 campaign.
For Aurora, the squad also has a new coach in Derek Kohanski. A former Greenmen player and 2000 AHS graduate, Kohanski has been coaching high school tennis for over 10 years and is also currently the girls’ varsity “B” coach at Laurel School in Shaker Heights.
“I played for Aurora in high school, but then stopped playing tennis until graduating from law school," said Kohanski, who is with The Kohanski Law Firm. In addition, Kohanski is also associated with the Northeastern Ohio Tennis Association (NEOTA) as the Adult Tennis Director.
Kohanski is excited for this season and realizes there may be some bumps in the road because of youth and also with the fact that the spring sports teams could face some scheduling changes throughout the season.
“Like everyone else, there are a lot of unknowns with the team after a lost season,” he said. “We will know more about our squad after our first week of matches against some tough opponents like Hawken and Twinsburg.”
Aurora opens the season at home against Archbishop Hoban at 4 p.m. March 29, plays at Hawken at 4:30 p.m. March 30, then hosts Nordonia at 4 p.m. March 31 before a visit to Twinsburg at 4 p.m. on April 1.
The coaching staff also includes Chris Downing, the junior varsity coach, and Vince Cannata, who is Aurora’s JV assistant coach.
Lending experience to the Greenmen will be a pair of returning players in senior Adam Macek and junior Mitchell Curtis. According to Kohanski, some of the top newcomers to watch are freshman Vincent Cannata and junior Juliana Malinowski.
“We have not finalized our varsity roster yet, but Vincent Cannata, Mitchell Curtis, and Juliana Malinowski will be our singles group,” said Kohanski.
More newcomers and prospects will surface for Aurora and likely secure the doubles teams as well as provide needed depth in both singles and doubles play.
Curtis placed fifth overall in the 2019 Suburban League National Conference tournament at first singles. He won 8-0 in the fifth-place match in the tourney over Reece Parry of Tallmadge.
Macek is a veteran in the program and was a contributor in 2019, particularly in doubles play.
In 2019, Revere captured the team championship of the Suburban League National Conference for the second year in a row. However, graduation has plucked away most of the top finishers two years ago, including Revere’s first singles champion Raj Kumar and second singles champ Ram Kumar, plus Kent Roosevelt’s Grant Jones, the first singles runner up. A few athletes who made an impact in 2019 are back as Revere’s Ben Lazbin is a threat after placing second at third singles two years ago. Teammate Merit Wagstaff is also talented. Medina Highland should be strong while Copley has a rich tradition and Kent Roosevelt is always competitive. As a sophomore for Highland in 2019, A.J. Cooper was a first doubles league champion and posted 14 wins while classmate Pavel Belyanskiy was third at third singles and had 11 wins. Kent has experience with Patrick Gallagher, plus brothers Luke Jenkins and Ethan Jenkins while Barberton’s Coby Kamp played two years ago, among a few others.
“We expect to be competitive and finish in the top half of the division,” said Kohanski. Aurora opens league play April 7 at Tallmadge.
As the Greenmen athletes get to compete and make strides this spring, they will look towards the Suburban League tournament May 1 at Highland and towards the sectional tournament draw, which is set this year for May 2.