You can give an award to the top freshman simply based on who played higher positions in the lineup. You can have all the freshman challenge each other and see who wins the mini-tournament. You can determine top freshman by seeing who won the most matches. You can determine the award by giving the prize to the one who improved the most.
There are lots of ways to determine how to give an award. And in different ways, our four freshman would all be deserving of an award. Take Parth Patel, who played the highest position of any of the freshman this year. He worked hard throughout the summer, won 10 matches this season including 2 wins against varsity players. He also played with lots of emotion, leading the JV for sure with "C'mons" and fist pumps. And his 10 victories qualified as 2nd most among Bruin JVers.
Then you've got Joel Gerig, who started the season with little experience playing tennis at all. During the middle school club season last year, he was in the play so didn't get to come to every practice that he could have. During the summer, he was far away in Mishawaka, so couldn't get to the open courts and workouts. Then during team camp, he was so frustrated at himself that it held him back. But during the season, he blossomed. As he began to play the game more, shots began to land in and wins began to pile up. In the early part of the season he build a winning record playing doubles with Wade Troyer and then never looked back.
Or Justin Zehr. Justin doesn't play any other sport, except for tennis. Throughout the summer he met with me to have individual workouts, and the whole summer we worked on consistency, keeping the ball in the court. No wonder during the season he drove opponents and teammates nuts by making them hit back one more ball.
And Abe Thorne. He worked and played more this summer than almost anyone else on the team period, either varsity or JV. And the truth is, he didn't even know that he'd be playing tennis until the spring of last year. Still, with a variety of partners in doubles and in several singles matches, Abe pulled out 9 wins this year, including a varsity win over Churubusco.
In the end, the Froshy is a hard award to give out. I want so much to recognize the work of every one on the team. But, in the spirit of awards, the Froshy goes to Parth Patel. The reason for this separation is that he totaled the most wins of any freshman, while also playing at higher positions throughout the season. He experienced some brutal losses throughout the season when running into high quality JV guys, who could be playing varsity at many schools. Despite these losses, he pulled it together to finish at 10-10 on the season. This was good for second highest winning percentage among the freshman as well. Particularly impressive was the way that Parth ended the season, winning 4 of his last 5 matches. This showed improvement as well.
And since it is Ben Mast week, the interesting thing is that I've told Parth time and time again that his game models Ben's. They both hit low shots, flat without high amounts of topspin. They both play their best when they are aggressive, attacking short balls and approaching the net to hit winners. And so, near the end of the season, I mentioned to Parth that he should look to Ben's style as inspiration for his own game. Lo and behold, 4 wins in the last 5. Ben's game inspired improvement.
Hooray for Parth! Hooray for Ben! Hooray for tennis!
Tomorrow: The Steury Award, for a player who joined after their freshman year!