by Calli Townsend
Last year the Armada boys tennis team won its first BWAC championship under head coach Tom Reuter. Now in his third year, Reuter and his team are looking to add another title to their resumes, but it’ll be a challenge after graduating their top three players.
“I got hit with losing the top three basically,” Reuter said. “We have a very young team, only two seniors this year, so all my top spots could be filled by underclassmen.”
Those three graduates include No. 1 and No. 2 singles players Jadon Hill and Zachary Schember, and Joshua Prall-Stankewitz, who occupied half of the No. 1 doubles team.
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Looking to replace the trio is a group of juniors: Nolan Hill, Colton Smith, James Burns, and Parker Westfall. Reuter said he’s looking forward to seeing which one of them steps up to take the No. 1 spot and lead the team.
“Right now the biggest challenge is figuring out who’s going to step up and be number one,” he said, “and we’re going to have to try to figure out the best possible lineup to put out there to get wins.”
Two of the biggest threats in the way of another conference title will be Almont and Yale, according to Reuter. But he said the Tigers have a tough non-conference schedule to prepare just for that.
“The quads that we play, there’s at least four or five of them, are tournaments against De La Salle, Romeo, and Frasier, who are all good Division I schools,” Reuter said. “We also get Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and a lot of the private schools, so we play a tough schedule intentionally to give the kids experience, and that can work for you or against you.”
He said his players will have to be able to bounce back quickly after tough matches to move on to the next, and with such a hard schedule, it could be difficult to do. But he said they did well in similarly tough situations last year, and is hoping to see the same this season.
One big asset the team has is long-time coach David Fredette who retired after the 2019 season, but has still stayed in the program.
“Dave Fredette was the coach for 50-plus years at Armada, and I’ve always kind of helped, and then he said, ‘OK it’s time to retire,’” Reuter said. “That’s when I was asked to take over under the assumption that he was going to be helping, and he still does. He’s a Godsend.”
Fredette coached for 53 years, accumulating 514 career wins, and numerous awards including National Boys Tennis Coach of the Year in 2019, and being named to the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame (1988), the Macomb County Coaches Hall of Fame (1997), and the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame (1998).
He created a strong boys tennis program at Armada, and Reuter looks to continue that tradition, which he said is a task made easier by great student-athletes.
“They’re a great group of kids. I can honestly say that in the years that I’ve been involved there really hasn’t been a bad group of tennis kids,” Reuter said. “Tennis players are good kids, all very smart, all a little bit of overachievers academically. And what I look forward to is seeing who’s going to step up and work the hardest and be competitive and be a team leader.”
The Tigers’ season will begin on Saturday, Aug. 28 at the Lancer Invite, and they will begin conference play against Imlay City on Thursday, Sept. 2.