Woodstock Beats Etowah for the First Time in Years

Staff Writer: Ramon Elortondo 


Lead Story: After being rained out the first time, Woodstock had to reschedule for Etowah, the cross-towne rival. It was previously scheduled for the 6 of March but we moved it to March 14. Talking to one of the players, he said it was about time. The team always is anxious to play their rival. They haven’t beaten them in years. Etowah has a history of having the best high school junior players in the nation. Starting with Galen Lee a few years back who went to Harvard University. Followed by a strong line two in Cole Heller who graduated last year and went on to play at Appalachian State, but then choosing to transfer to Georgia College and State University (GCSU). I asked Cole why he decided to transfer, and he told me, “I just wanted more playing time. I loved the team and everything but as a freshman I was expecting to play a line, at least some doubles, but I did not get what I wanted so I went to a smaller school. There I got the chance to play and it’s been great.” Then there is Josh Raab, the newest of Etowah best players. Josh has he chance to be Etowah’s best. He is the top junior tennis player in the state at only a sophomore. I talked to his former coach Jason Fleeman on what he thought about Josh. “He’s an amazing talent. It’s simple. Ever since he was little you could tell he was going to be this good. Not only is he talented but he is really committed.” Woodstock was up for the challenge on Wednesday. Ramon Elortondo lost badly to Josh. 

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Ramon Elortondo (pictured above) serving in the first match of the Kennesaw Mountain tournament against Kell. Ramon easily won that match winning in under an hour. Photo gathered by Dani Salame. 

He was still healing from an Achilles injury, but he would have lost badly anyways. Line two singles, senior Julio Contreras, also lost badly to Grant Williford. The rest of the lines made up for those two losses. Freshman Owen Wenzel at three singles won in two sets while junior Matthew Sanchez and senior Cameron Mendenhall also won in three sets. 

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Matthew Sanchez coming into the net while Cameron Mendenhall is about to hit an overhead. The powerful duo cruised had a 1-2 record in the tournament. Photo gathered by Dani Salame. 

The tandem has been doing great this year. They played together last year as well and have had great chemistry from last season. Last but not least, one doubles. Easily the match of the year. The three setter that lasted over two hours was the last match on the court with everyone watching. Both teams cheered on loudly after almost every point trying to gain any edge possible. In the end it worked out for Woodstock. Senior Evan Cohen and talented freshman Tyler Onufrock barely edged out Etowah in the third set giving Woodstock the win over the Eagles in a long time.  

In Case You Missed It: To begin the season, we traveled to Kell High School and defeated the Longhorns easily, taking four out of the five lines. Only losing line two singles. Woodstock Men’s tennis then went on to lose two in a row. We lost two out of the five lines against Creekview, and then got destroyed by a very talented Lassiter Trojan team, dropping all five lines. The team bounced back though, winning the next to and gaining momentum into the Kennesaw Moutain tournament.  

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Julio Contreras after his first-round loss in the Kennesaw Mountain tournament. These two played against each other for the second time. Julio was happy with his play both times. They were great matches. Photo gathered by Dani Salame. 

Again, we took on Kell High school. Going in, Evan Cohen the line one doubles senior said, “I hope to win the tournament again this year. We won it my sophomore and junior year. I know this team is a lot different now but if we play good, we can beat anyone.” In the Kennesaw Mountain tournament Woodstock ran through Kell in the first round but fell to North Cobb and Harrison in the next two rounds.  

Wolverine of the Month: Senior Evan Cohen is the Wolverine of the month this March. Evan has played at line one doubles all year line. He has been a consistent line for the Wolverines this season.  He began the year off playing with Owen Wenzel, a freshman that moved to line two singles once Tyler Onufrock came back from an injury to his middle finger. 

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Owen Wenzel and Evan Cohen who are not partners anymore. Evan was more of the power player while Owen was more conservative but consistent. Photo gathered by Dani Salame. 

Tyler filled in for Owen becoming an even greater partnership at an important line. Tyler who is also a freshman at Woodstock this year is the better player of the two and with Evan on the other side of the court, the pairing is hard to beat. I asked Evan what his favorite thing about this year has been, he said, “We had Jackson finally graduate after so many years of contribution. It has been fun to have some new faces and a new leader. We miss him but, in my opinion, it has added a new sense of excitement!” Evan does not have plans to continue playing in college after he graduates this year. He has plans to attend Kennesaw State and move in with his friends to an apartment closer to campus. Evan hopes to make his last year a memorable one and make a deep run in the state playoff.  

Quotable: “We got to compete day in a and day out. It does not matter who is on the other side of the court, what school were playing, nothing. All that matters is us controlling what we can control and putting our best foot forward. Go out there and compete and play for each other. Bring that same energy you did the first time around!” That’s what coach Josh Smerker had to say before the Wolverines took Etowah for the second time.  

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Ollie Connett filling in for an injured Tyler Onufrock. Ollie always steps in and does his job without complaning. Photo gathered by Dani Salame.  

Off the Court: For the first time in team history under Coach Smerker, the team tried something new. Something Smerker has only done with his football guys but never with the tennis team. He had them over for dinner one night. The team came over and had a great time. His wife cooked the team breakfast for dinner (who doesn’t love that!). French toast with eggs and sausages left the boys full. It was a great team bonding It really brought the team together.  

By the Numbers: Line two doubles has had a strong year this year. With a record of 12-5, they have only lost to Lassiter twice, Walton, and two matches in the Kennesaw Mountain tournament. They had a strong outing against Walton the first go around, and they beat Etowah twice. Matthew Sanchez and Cameron Mendenhall are a strong line for the team and have become one of the most reliable parings this year.  

Looking Ahead: At the start of April when spring break concludes, and everyone is back in town, the region tournament begins. It is an all-day event. The team will miss school on the Wednesday we get back. We go in playing Lassiter first and if we lose we’d play Etowah most likely. It should be a fun playoff to see who gets the best seeding in our region.  

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