Falls boys tennis looking forward to healthy season

Steve Batko
Cuyahoga Falls

As the tennis season gets into action this spring, the Cuyahoga Falls squad will focus on simply hitting the courts to compete and create experience and depth through opportunity.

Those opportunities will eventually equate to improved individual and team play this season after COVID-19 washed away the 2020 campaign.

Black Tiger boys coach Ryan Markgraf is eager to get under way and continue to look at his talent pool for this season and beyond.

“My single goal for the year is to have a healthy and enjoyable season,” said Markgraf, who is in his second year as head coach and fourth overall in the Falls program.

“These boys were unable to play tennis last season, and many of them feel tennis is one of their main passions,” said Markgraf. “I want them to be able to enjoy it in the safest way possible.”

Most programs don’t have a wealth of current athletes who played tennis at the varsity level two years ago.

“Our team, although small this year, is a collection of great teammates that want to continue to improve and play tennis into their adult life,” explained Markgraf. “I am very thankful to be working with such great kids.”

Division I Falls is fortunate to have a pair of young men who are entering their third season. Those two players are still underclassmen as juniors!

Returnees include the pair of Zachary Barnes and Tyler Cargould.

“Zachary and Tyler are both juniors and they are team leaders,” said the coach.

Barnes has seen action at plenty of spots in 2019, including third singles. Cargould also saw good court time in a few roles and in doubles play.

According to Markgraf, Falls will also lean on second-year players such as senior David Rinehart, sophomore Preston Becker, sophomore Jacob Graham, junior Brandan Schertz, and sophomore Zach Shutt.

These Falls tennis players did not compete in 2019.

The Black Tigers have some promising first year freshman players in Braden Cargould and Noah Hite.

“David Rinehart moves well on the court and is a great team player,” noted the coach. “He will help us in doubles.”

Markgraf is also fired up about his freshmen.

“Noah brings 'height' to the team and works hard,” said Markgraf. “He will help us in both doubles and singles.”

The Black Tigers will kick off the season at North Royalton April 5 at Memorial Park at 4 p.m. Scheduling could change quickly this season as the second meet is at Medina April 6 at 4 p.m.

Opening up the difficult Suburban League National Conference season in the opener against North Royalton is followed by the home opener, April 7 against league rival Twinsburg. Falls also hosts league for Brecksville April 12. All matches begin at 4 p.m.

Wadsworth is the defending champion after going 7-0 in 2019 and won the league tourney, but lost all of those players to graduation.

Hudson should also be strong after a runner-up finish in 2019, but most teams are still determining lineups and depth charts. Twinsburg was hurt by graduation and will be reloading.

“My starting seven (at this point) will be with Tyler Cargould, Barnes, Shutt, Hite, Schertz, Rinehart, and Graham,” said Markgraf. “Positions are still to be determined.”

Most area teams will feature fluctuating lineups through the course of the season.

Falls will also look toward the league tournament at Medina Highland April 30 at 8 am. The sectional tournament draw will be May 2 for the Black Tigers.

As always, the Black Tiger schedule and non-league slate will be extremely challenging this spring.