Mitchell Curtis unbeaten through 10 tennis matches

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Aurora tennis standout Mitchell Curtis.

It didn’t take long for Mitchell Curtis to run and hit out on the tennis courts.

Now, Curtis is wanting even more court time as he lost his critical sophomore season as a now veteran member of the new-look and successful Aurora High tennis team.

After quietly having a sensational freshman campaign in 2019, Curtis was eager for the 2020 spring to see just how much he had improved after his rookie season.

That spring season was washed away by COVID-19 and like many other area athletes, Curtis had to re-group and maintain his focus.

Back on the courts and competing with his Greenmen teammates to the tune of a superb 10-0 overall record for Aurora, Curtis is happy to be playing competitive tennis again, to say the least.

The junior, who began playing tennis when he was just four years old, has worked hard and Curtis has seen extensive action at second singles this season.

Curtis has a 9-1 record this spring going against a potent schedule, including challenging matches throughout the Suburban League National Conference, where Aurora is 2-0.

Undefeated at second singles at 8-0, Curtis has continued to make strides. 

“After going 11-9 my freshman year, I was really excited for my sophomore season, which, unfortunately, was canceled due to COVID,” said Curtis. “Since my freshman season, I have developed a more consistent serve and used more strategy in my game.”

As a freshman, Curtis placed fifth in the Suburban League in singles play.

Looking to improve, Curtis thinks he has made progress despite all of the craziness that followed the spring of 2020. 

Curtis can now talk real positively about his serve as well as his return game.

“I think my strengths are my serve, return of serve, consistency, and ability to take advantage of my opponent’s weakness,” he said.

Besides the physical tools, tennis players also need to hone in on positive mental aspects and be able to move on after making mistakes.

“I am at my best when I focus on the match and not let past errors distract me from the next point,” he said.

Aurora’s fantastic start has been due, in large part, to the play of the team’s singles players while a deep cast of doubles players are learning and improving.

“Our great start has been fueled by our three singles players,” said coach Derek Kohanski. “They have come out every match and have been dominant.

“Our top three singles players have only one loss all season, and that came in our very first match.”

Freshman standout Vincent Cannata has also excelled at first singles while sophomore Juliana Malinowski has been outstanding at third singles.

“Mitchell has been one of our strongest players so far and he has continued to make quick work of his opponents with multiple 6-0 sets throughout,” said Kohanski.

In a 3-2 win over Twinsburg, Aurora was sparked by a Curtis win at second singles over Twinsburg’s Jake Terbeek 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. 

“His top win this year was against Jake Terbeek, winning a three-set thriller to help the team win,” said Kohanski. “It was a great back and forth match against two really strong, well-matched players. It was the match of the year so far.”

Through family, Curtis has learned and tried to succeed in the game’s nuances.

“I started playing tennis when I was 4-years old,” said Curtis. “Both of my parents — Clay and Aireane Curtis — play tennis and introduced it to me at an early age.”

Curtis also has found his way to play a role and be engaged in high athletics in another unique way.

For the past three years, Curtis has been the announcer and scoreboard operator for the Streetsboro High girls and boys’ soccer teams. That’s not an easy task.

In addition, the active Curtis has also found a way to get some time to hit local golf courses as well as to fish.

“While my focus is on tennis as my only high school competitive sport, I also enjoy golfing and fishing,” he said. 

However, at this juncture of the spring season, Curtis is focused on this season, taking one match at a time, and holding off for now, to hit the golf links or finding that perfect fishing spot.

Curtis wants to savor each opportunity on the courts as the regular season quickly folds into tournament and heated postseason play.  

Aurora tennis standout Mitchell Curtis.