The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


April 10, 2014

Spartans pull a stunner

Conneaut conquers Geneva in tennis for second time in a half-century

How often does Conneaut beat Geneva in boys tennis?

About as often as the Browns win an NFL championship.

It happened Wednesday... at Geneva.

Coach Dave Simpson’s Spartans pulled off a shocker, recording a 3-2 non-conference triumph, at Geneva, no less.

Simpson, now in his 15th season at the helm of the varsity Spartans after spending 11 seasons coaching Conneaut’s junior high squads, was understandably proud of his squad.

“This is only the second time in 50 years Conneaut has beaten Geneva in tennis,” he said. “It’s quite a thrill to be able to win against a program with the amazing tradition and amount of success as Geneva. We have total respect for them, which makes the victory even more meaningful.”

With the match between the former longtime Northeastern Conference rivals tied at 2-2, only the first-doubles match — featuring junior Jacob Edwards and sophomore Alex Gerdes for Conneaut and Louis Murphy and Anthony Barszczewski for Geneva — was still being contested.

“It was quite a scene and atmosphere,” Simpson said. “Everyone else was done and everyone knew what was at stake, so all eyes were focused on that court.”

Edwards, a junior, and his partner, Gerdes, a sophomore came through with flying colors, rallying for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph.

“For Jacob and Alex to do that, especially after losing the first set, was really impressive,” Simpson said. “It was really an awesome scene and it was great to see them come through in the manner they did.”

The other Spartan victories were recorded at second singles — by Scott Gerdes, Conneaut’s lone senior, who defeated Geneva’s Mike Keenan, 6-1, 6-1 — and third singles — by sophomore Rashad Al-Arabi, who knocked off Geneva’s Mitch Felde, 6-3, 6-4.

Geneva (2-1, 2-0 in the Premier Athletic Conference) prevailed at first singles, where Brock Ebersole bested Adam Laitinen, 6-0, 6-0, and at second doubles, where Josh Roney and Zack Stehura topped Sean O’Meara and Adam Bissett, 6-4, 6-3.

Neither squad was at full strength for the match, according to Simpson.

“Geneva had a guy missing, but we did, too,” he said.

For Simpson, who was the head coach the only other time Conneaut beat Geneva in tennis, back in 2004 at Conneaut, it was a proud moment for his squad, which has only one senior and also features one junior, six sophomores and one freshman.

“We have only nine guys,” he said. “But we have a really strong team this year and these guys really work at the game and want to improve.

“For them to go to a place such as Geneva, where they have that door that lists all their incredible accomplishments in the sport, and come home with a victory is such an honor.

“I’m very proud of my guys. They earned this.”

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