Team is the theme.
Kaitlyn Then was recently recognized for her sparkling play on the tennis court by being named the YAIAA Tennis Coaches Division 2 Player of the Year. New Oxford’s Travis Martin was honored by his peers, who selected him as the YAIAA Division 1 Coach of the Year.
Neither viewed their respective award as an individual honor, however. Then praised the efforts of her teammates, both veterans and newcomers alike.
“I love to see the growth of people coming out to play tennis,” said Then, a Gettysburg senior. “You see these amazing people come out and we all work hard and really work on each other’s weaknesses and grow. It’s so satisfying seeing people who maybe weren’t really passionate about it, then finding that they love it so much.”
Martin, who is no stranger to garnering coaching awards, said this one has a special feel to it.
“More than any other, this was the purest team effort,” he said. “From our assistant coaches to players 1-30, it was a team coach of the year effort. More than ever I shouldn’t be taking this much credit. It was pretty incredible.”
Then led from the front once again, maintaining her position at No. 1 singles for a fourth straight year. The senior went 8-1 during the regular season, setting the tone for a Warrior team that posted a 6-3 mark in its matches. Her work ethic was noted by head coach Dave Yates.
“It is important to have an established No. 1 so that the other players have someone that will inspire them to put in the effort so that they can aspire to be No. 1 in future seasons,” said Yates. “It also helps if that No. 1 player is a natural leader and good team captain.”
Then, who plays year-round and has taken private lessons, is at peace with a racket in her hands.
“Any chance to be on the court feels amazing,” she said. “It takes away the stress from school and work, and you’re with friends.”
After reaching the second round of the YAIAA Class 3A singles tournament, Then paired with Warrior Kim Heinzelmann, who went 8-0 at No. 2 singles to earn first-team YAIAA honors, to create a formidable duo in doubles play. The Warrior tandem powered into the league tournament semifinals before losing to the eventual champions form Central York.
Undeterred, Then and Heinzelmann scored a three-set victory in the third-place match.
Showing resolve on the court has never been an issue for Then, who puts time into the mental side of the sport. Yates saw her make strides in that area this season.
“I saw an improvement in all aspects of her game, especially the mental side,” he said.
Going forward, Then is uncertain if she will continue to play competitive tennis in college. She has been accepted to Millersville University, which plays on the NCAA Division 2 level, and is also considering Penn State University, where she said she would consider club tennis.
She plans to major in meteorology regardless of the school she ultimately chooses.
As for a favorite moment from her final scholastic season, the senior couldn’t choose just one.
“I have so many favorite moments and our team isn’t like a team in any other sport,” she said. “With tennis you’re playing by yourself but our entire team was so nice.”
Martin sounded like a coach who was ready to jump into a new season rather than reflect on a recently completed campaign. New Oxford went 8-0 under his tutelage, capturing a YAIAA-1 championship. The climb to the top hasn’t been easy and Martin isn’t taking for granted what has been accomplished.
“The first time I got coach of the year it was because we went .500 for the first time in 15 years, and I was jumping for joy,” he said. “I’m really stoked about the effort we put in this year. We were maybe third-best (in Division 1) entering the year but somebody came up big every time and that’s what it’s about. Everybody wanted to have a part in it. That’s the culture we’ve been trying to build.”
Victories over established powerhouses like Central York and Dallastown have gone from pipe dreams to realistic expectations during Martin’s 16 years at the helm. He is trying instill in his players the same mind set he had as a three-sport athlete at Gettysburg.
“At Gettysburg, you go to districts,” he said. “I look to some of my former coaches like Perry Smith who was building a program. You may start at the bottom, but you can do it. That inspired me to be a coach.”
The Colonials may have lacked a superstar this season but they more than made up for that by putting a rock-solid lineup on the court for each match. Seniors Eryn Little and Kayla Hoffman, who manned the top two singles positions, were second-team YAIAA all stars while newcomers Alex Wolf, Allison Horick and Joslyn Loss made honorable mention. Horick, who dropped only a handful of games at No. 3 singles, is a budding star. Fellow freshmen Loss and Wolf were unbeaten in doubles action during the regular season.
“We saw the future in these kids,” said Martin. “They’re motivated like crazy and I’m really excited.”
Interestingly, Martin viewed New Oxford’s lone loss as his favorite moment of the season. The Colonials dropped a 5-0 decision to Hershey in the District 3 Team Championship semifinals, but before doing so gave the Trojans all the fight they could handle.
“We took a whooping at Hershey but I honestly felt that our best match that we played all season,” he said. “(Hershey) was a team full of seniors and we were a team full of freshmen with a couple of seniors. It’s amazing how those matches turned out. I talked to the freshmen afterward and asked if they wanted to be in that position again next year or wait until their senior year.”
With the amount of motivated young talent Martin will have at his disposal next season, the answer to that question is clear.
Contact Josh Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @JoshMartin33
YAIAA Girls’ Tennis Coaches All-Stars
Player of the Year: Lexi Lakatosh, Red Lion
Coach of the Year: Travis Martin, New Oxford
Rachel Haupt, Central York; Audrey Stewart, Central York; Grace Heird, Dallastown; Sophie Lanius, Red Lion; Sarah McComas, South Western
Kylie Sciuto, Dallastown; Eryn Little, New Oxford; Kayla Hoffman, New Oxford; Ini Ekaha, York Suburban; Abigail Miller, York Suburban; Alex Clancy, York Suburban
Hannah Sult, Dallastown; Namya Jindal, Dallastown; Emma Pequignot, Dover; Alex Wolf, New Oxford; Alison Horick, New Oxford; Joslyn Loss, New Oxford; Jiselle Castano, Northeastern; Lael Marshall, Northeastern; Sarah Diehl, Spring Grove
Player of the Year: Kaitlyn Then, Gettysburg
Coach of the Year: John Renard, York Catholic
Evelyn Whiteside, Eastern York; Kim Heinzelmann, Gettysburg; Brianna Serruto, Kennard-Dale; Peyton Joines, Susquehannock; Ali Zapach, Susquehannock; Alisa Steele, West York; Carina Roberts, York Catholic
Anne Miles, Bermudian Springs; Ella Knox, Delone Catholic; Olivia Roth, Delone Catholic; Tori Santoriello, Kennard-Dale; Julie Rubleman, Kennard-Dale; Megan Cramer, Susquehannock; Chloe Hoover, West York
Grace Macarelli, Kennard-Dale; Shannon Fletcher, Kennard-Dale; Tessa Bryan, Susquehannock; Angela Kontz, Susquehannock; Diana Kelbaugh, Susquehannock; Anne Jackson, Susquehannock; Lexi Sanderson, West York; Ireland Brennan, York Catholic; Ella Linthacum, York Catholic