With the Vikings’ 5-0 win at Perry, Shaffer became the all-time leader in coaching victories in Ohio high school tennis. The 2023 Vikings pushed their season record to 20-0.
Coaching boys in the spring and girls in the fall is common, and Shaffer’s achievement includes wins achieved with both boys and girls programs.
Monday’s result at Perry left Shaffer with 624 wins on the girls side and 415 on the boys side for a total of 1,039, covering work at St. Thomas Aquinas (1988-99) and Hoover (2003-present).
Shaffer passed Al Slawson, who compiled 1,038 victories at Shaker Heights and Beaumont. Slawson is retired and lives in Shaker Heights.
The numbers are certified by the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association. Shaffer, 74, has a combined overall record of 1,039-174.
“I’ve had a guardian angel watching me,” Shaffer said. “It’s a tribute to a lot of great kids who were not necessarily the best players, but bought into the program and did everything they could to be successful.”
Hoover had the better players Monday in all five matches, winning each by scores of 6-0, 6-0.
Shaffer reached the milestone a long lob shot away from the football stadium where he was a Perry quarterback in the 1960s.
He felt a little funny that it happened at the expense of his alma mater, but at the same time sensed some poetry there. Everyone in the tennis community understands no one can keep up with the Vikings this year. There were no hard feelings about the joy on Shaffer’s face as he mingled with players, friends and family.
A semicircle gathered around Shaffer as he gave quiet marks of appreciation.
Hoover senior Tess Bucher’s teammates pushed her toward the coach, bearing a giant cookie — he likes cookies.
Post match celebration:
The Lady Vikings present Coach Shaffer with his favorite…a cookie cake celebrating his 1,039 career win – making him the all-time career wins leader in the state. #GoVikings pic.twitter.com/9HMm5CztmM
— NCHHS Athletics (@nchoovervikings) September 18, 2023
He loved that the audience included his wife Joni, two of their three children, six of his eight grandchildren, and his two sisters, Eileen Marshall and Elise Nelson. Sons Ryan and Mike made it. Another son, Bart, lives in Seattle with the two grandchildren who could not be there.
His daughter in law Rachelle was there, but she is always there, as one of his assistant coaches.
Hoover athletic director Tom Oakes spoke briefly, saying, “More impressive than the 1,039 wins is the number of lives Coach Shaffer has touched.”
The 2023 Vikings have been the state’s No. 1-ranked team in the Ohio Tennis Zone poll since the preseason.
The Kentucky recruit began her season on the fly, literally, jetting in for the season opener after competing in the USTA Billie Jean King National Championships in San Diego.
Her senior year at No. 1 singles has produced a 20-0 record. In her first 10 matches, she outscored her opponents 120 games to four. In the last 10, the count is 116-0.
She is among those who “bought in.”
“As a team I think we’ve done a lot more than I ever thought we would,” she said. “This year, we still hope to do more.
“I’ve loved playing for Hoover. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Seniors Bridget Fink and Nyla Spangler improved to 16-0 at first doubles. All of their wins have been in two sets, and the closest set was 6-3.
Sophomores Ema Papcke and Addison Sheil both are unbeaten while playing second and third singles, respectively. They will compete as a doubles team in the upcoming OHSAA tournament. Both have overall records of 19-0.
Meanwhile, Shaffer became the winningest coach in Stark County school tennis history a while ago. No. 2 is Greg Parrish, whose Louisville teams won 808 matches, 14th all-time in the state.
A look at how Shaffer migrated from football to tennis and his coaching life is the subject of an upcoming article.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Ryan Shaffer winningest coach in Ohio high school tennis history