Practice during pandemic aids Nordonia tennis' Kitzmiller

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Nordonia Knights

Like everybody throughout the world last year, Drew Kitzmiller was hit hard by COVID-19. His eighth-grade school year came to a crashing end in March. There wasn’t much to do.

Then Kitzmiller’s dad decided to take Drew out to the tennis courts to improve his son’s game that he started playing about a year beforehand.

As it turned out, the pandemic was actually a plus when it came to Kitzmiller’s tennis game.

“That’s where Drew learned a lot of his tennis within the last year, during the pandemic,” Nordonia head boys tennis coach Ryan Vehar. “Obviously, I’d never wish that anything could happen like this, but the pandemic gave Drew a chance to play a lot of tennis and work on his game. His dad is pretty knowledgeable when it comes to tennis.”

Now a freshman, Kitzmiller has become a regular at No. 1 doubles this season

Kitzmiller teamed with senior Matt Kerosky to win 6-3, 7-5 April 13 in helping Nordonia to a 3-2 victory at Lyndhurst Brush.

On April 14, Kitzmiller joined forces with senior Cole Gabel in losing a tough one 6-3, 6-7 (7-2), 6-2 in a 3-2 home win over Suburban League National Conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls.

On April 16 during a 5-0 loss at home to National Conference rival Hudson, Kitzmiller and Kerosky teamed to lose 6-1, 6-3.

Kitzmiller is now 2-6 this season in doubles with seven of his eight matches having come at first doubles.

Nordonia dropped to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the conference.

Kitzmiller, who suffered a wrist injury earlier in the season, has a decent all-around game.

“Drew is good from the baseline, he has a serve that’s continuing to improve and is pretty stable and strong and his net game is good, too,” said Vehar. “He also has good anticipation and just really tries to help out his partner to play good tennis. I think Drew has the talent. He’s steady and consistent out there.

“Drew has a good demeanor out there, too. If a couple of games don’t go their way, you can see Drew and his partner are always working to continue to try to figure out what they need to do to get the next couple of games. Drew doesn’t get flustered easily.”

Kitzmiller has exceeded his coach’s expectations this season.

“I could see he had good technical skills with his groundstrokes, at the net and his serving,” he said. “He could do the basics of the game. He could step right in and start playing points with any of our returning lettermen. Right away, I basically knew, ‘Okay, this is going to be a solid player for us.’ Also, he’s always listening to exactly what I have to say in terms of helping his game.”

According to Vehar, Kitzmiller has become somewhat of a team leader.

“Drew goes above and beyond when it comes to improving his game,” he said. “He’s right there when it’s stretching time. When we have to run our laps, he’s in the first group. He always takes a few extra serves. He’s dressed and ready to go every day.

“He’s a pretty serious guy when it comes to tennis. Everything he does, he does with a purpose. I think he really enjoys the game.”