CLINTON — Clinton Coach Jonathan Mitchell set a goal when the boys tennis season started, and it was more of a numeric goal rather than a postseason expectation.
Mitchell made his goal of having 30 boys out for the tennis team, and a few of those helped the River Kings defeat Davenport West 7-2 in the season opener Tuesday at the Ashford Tennis Center. The Kings swept doubles and won four of six singles matches.
The No. 1 singles’ player for the River Kings, Rohan Aggarwal, suffered a 10-6 loss to West senior David Tra.
“I didn’t play my game, and I played too nervously,” Aggarwal said. “I tried to keep the ball in, and in the end, it came back and bit me.”
Aggarwal missed some open shots around the court that included at the net and down the lines.
“It just wasn’t my game today,” Aggarwal said.
Aggarwal realizes that he has to set the bar high as the top Clinton player, and the pressure of that on the first dual got to the River King senior.
“Playing No. 1, you get a little bit more nerves by trying to set a good example,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about this match for the last couple of days, and I think I just overthought it.”
Mitchell isn’t too concerned about his top player losing on Day 1.
“Whenever you lose, it’s a little concerning,” Mitchell said. “I have faith in Rohan. Over the years, he’s been with our program, he’ll get it figured out and he’ll bounce back.”
Meanwhile, Connor Nolan and Colin Nelson each won their matches as the second- and third-flight players in Tuesday’s dual. Nolan won 10-3 while Nelson won nine straight games to win 10-2. Nelson was down 2-1 to Reece Papers before finishing off the West senior.
“Colin did an amazing job, and he’s one of those guys when it’s meet night, it’s game on and shines the best,” Mitchell said. “The power and the quickness, he brings to the program, is just great.”
Garrett Stumbaugh and Nick Beckwith also won their singles’ matches. All three River Kings doubles’ teams won, with Nolan and Sameer Ansari having the closest margin of victory at 10-6.
“I’m pretty happy with how the team performed; I know a lot of the newer players played well,” Aggarwal said.
What else Mitchell thinks is great is the 30 kids out for the team. He spent the offseason recruiting and asked his varsity regulars to spread the word. It worked.
“I’m really happy with the numbers and those who are trying something new and being part of a team,” Mitchell said. “That is great for Clinton High athletics in general. The more sports they can participate in, the better.
“Last year, we had 21 out, and it was a nice, solid number, but to go from 21 to 30, it’s a great thing. We’ll take anyone. I think we have (a player from) every sport represented on our team, except wrestling, which is so cool.”
Aggarwal says that having Mitchell in the Clinton High building on a daily basis helped get more kids to come out for tennis.
“He’s known as a pretty fun guy, so I think a lot of the kids are interested in coming out, and having a fun time,” the soon-to-be Penn student said. “The thing unlike tennis than every other sport is that you’re guaranteed playing time. I think that really appeals to people at the high school.”
CLINTON 7, DAVENPORT WEST 4
Singles — David Tra (W) def. Rohan Aggarwal 10-6; Connor Nolan (C) def. Reece Papers 10-3; Colin Nelson (C) def. James Larsen 10-2; Tanner Meeham (W) def. Luke Boyd 10-6; Garrett Stumbaugh (C) def. John Dubberke 10-1; Nick Beckwith (C) Minn Le 10-1.
Doubles — Aggarwal/Nelson (C) def. Tra/Larson 10-3; Sameer Ansari/Nolan (C) def. Papers/Mecham 10-6; Beckwith/Boyd (C) def. Le/Dubberke 10-1.