Connor O’Guinn’s journey in tennis took him much further than he ever expected.
The high school portion of that career is over with and ends with the senior being named the Herald-Times Player of the Year, but his coach, Ken Hydinger, has said all along that the best could be yet to come if he continues to invest in the sport.
Just look at what O’Guinn put into this season after earning the No. 1 singles spot for Bloomington North, sliding through sectional play undefeated and winning a regional title to play in the quarterfinals at the state finals.
“His ground strokes got a lot better,” Hydinger said. “There was more quality to them. He started passing a lot better. Just everything got better. His volleys progressed. His serve was progressing.
“Everything was improving, including his ability to go out and win. He had a tendency to be so much of a defensive player, but he got to where he could take it to people.”
That gave him even more confidence in addition to making him a more dangerous player with an expanding toolbox of skills.
“It’s a valuable thing to have people lose to you,” Hydinger said. “But to be able to play more offense, if defense wasn’t working, he was coming in better equipped. Some matches, he was hitting ground strokes more offensively and could finish with decisive volleys. His movement got better.”
By the end, he could better suit his game to his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and it made for a strong postseason run.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hydinger said of coaching him through it. “You’re seeing these guys and figuring out their games on the fly. You go into it the standard way you want to try to play and approach each point. Then, you can work variations off of that.
“He’s a smart kid, fun to talk to out there, and picking up on stuff and apply it. We talked and you’re either ahead, behind or even. And the answer is always to keep fighting hard and he did that. He went out and gave a good, hard effort every time and didn’t let the situation get to him.”
2023 H-T ALL-AREA BOYS’ TENNIS TEAM
ANDREW PAUL, Edgewood, So.
Went 16-6, 7-1 in WIC and advanced to the singles tournament after winning twice in sectional play in his second year of varsity play after moving up from No. 3 singles last year. Third at Crawfordsville Invite. Has 29 career wins.
DAVID CIUCU, South, Jr.
Doubles player last year moved all the way up to No. 1 singles and went 8-12, playing the last several matches, including sectional and regional, on an injured ankle. All-CI, IHSTCA All-District 5.
CONNOR O’GUINN, North, Sr.
H-T Player of the Year has been a strong varsity presence the past three seasons despite not playing the game until he got to high school. Elevated to No. 1 singles, went 13-6 and 4-1 in Conference Indiana play, making it all the way to the state singles quarterfinals. All-CI. IHSTCA All-District 5.
EVAN KANTOR, Sr. & ETHAN PEYTON, Sr., South
A late pairing with Kantor hurt much of the season and limited to not playing back-to-back matches, but the duo pulled out a three-set win in the sectional final to give the Panthers the team title. Kantor was named All-CI. Peyton was named Academic All-State.
CASEY MCINTYRE, Sr. & SETH FORCE, Sr., North
Cougars’ top doubles team was 14-7 and 4-1 in Conference Indiana play. Took second place at Jasper Invitational. Both were named All-CI.
HONORABLE MENTION: Alex Busch, South, So. (19-3 at 2 singles, IHSTCA All-District 5); Brady Murphy, North, Fr. (14-5, All-CI at 2 singles); Esteban Crespo, Jr. and Ben Konisky, Fr. North (7-4 at 2 doubles).
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Here’s the 2023 Herald-Times All-Area boys’ tennis team