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Western tennis continues to improve as regional round approaches


By Mike Moore

Staff Writer


Parma – There was an expectation of what to expect, and then the patience needed to see if it all would come to fruition.


Needless to say, Doug Blume didn’t have to wait long at all.


“The fact we’re realizing what we had hoped for is pretty awesome,” the Western tennis coach said earlier this week about his guys. “The kids have been working very hard for this.”


‘This’ is a season to the tune of an 18-4 overall record as of Friday morning and a 5-1 record in the I-8 conference, the lone loss coming to No. 4-ranked Coldwater.


All four losses on the year have come to ranked teams, Blume explained.


The thing Blume likes the most, he added, was the whole-team effort that’s been required to earn said record.


“We’ve got seniors contributing, some freshmen stepping into some big roles,” he said.


Jonah Engle is serving as the team’s No. 1 singles player for the third year in a row.


“He’s taken some hits in what is a loaded conference, but every time he goes out he plays great tennis and takes on some great competition,” Blume said. “Beyond that, he’s one of our best leaders, without a doubt.”


And speaking of brothers, Sam Dobben has anchored the No. 2 doubles squad, while Charlie Dobben is contributing at No. 4.


“Sam’s played remarkably well,” Blume said. “And he’s been a leader, supporting his younger brother the whole time.”


Austin Burkhart has held down the fort at No. 3 singles.


“He’s become a fantastic player,” Blume said. “He battles every single match.”


The solid play thus far has only fueled further hopes as the postseason approaches.


Western is hosting a tournament Friday, has a couple other tournaments remaining, then the Trenton regional is next.


“We want to win at home, and then we have some very specific goals beyond that,” Blume said, but wouldn’t elaborate.


But for a team that placed 16th  in Division 3 a year ago, and one playing even better now, there’s a safe assumption any and all objections rest on making some noise at the finals.


“This is a group that’s very capable,” Blume added. “We’ve taken on some big teams, and we’ve been right there with them. We’ve gotten better all year, and we feel we can play on the big stage with anyone.”

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