By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
It isn’t easy to follow up a 19-2 season for any coach. There isn’t much room to improve and players sometimes get complacent with those kinds of seasons.
“We try and guard against that way of thinking,” Dubsky said. “The reality is, (in 2012) we beat South, 3-2, in both matches. One time, we beat them 7-5 in the third set at second doubles. We were right there in position to lose that.”
Dubsky, the Star Beacon Ashtabula County Coach of the Year, didn’t allow the Eagles to look in the rearview mirror.
“We tried to set goals a little higher this year,” Dubsky said. “One of the things we do is keep moving forward. If you try and stay at the same level, you’re actually digressing. You have to keep moving forward. You have to set higher goals. We tried to go for more. We had individual goals, too.”
The Geneva coach knew the type of talent the Eagles had and did what he could to challenge them.
“I had five seniors in the starting lineup,” Dubsky said. “That makes it a little easier to be a coach. I set a very tough schedule. Maybe I overscheduled. But you have high expectations, figuring you have five seniors. Our record wasn’t as good as last year, but the team was better.
“We had a much tougher schedule,” Dubsky said. “Riverside did not field a team, so we replaced those two matches with two really tough ones. We lost seven matches and six were 3-2. The year before, we won a bunch of 3-2 matches.”
Though he had five experienced seniors in the starting lineup, Dubsky had to push the Eagles a bit.
“If there was a weakness to this group, it was they were too nice sometimes,” Dubsky said. “I had to try and fire them up, get them a little angry.
“I tried to get them to show the same competitiveness on the tennis as they do in the classroom. We have two kids who were ranked second and third in their class. I just try and get them to show the same competitiveness on the tennis court.”
And telling the Eagles to compete like they’re in that classroom is speaking a language they fully understand.
“The senior class is really smart,” Dubsky said. “They’re really good students. They’re good kids. It made for good practices. I try to give seniors a lot of authority. Collectively, they’re GPA is 3.86. It’s a very smart group, a responsible group.
“I think it’s easier to help kids who are smart. They’re receptive to learning. That makes my job easier.”
Dubsky gets a good deal of help and he appreciates it fully.
“I have to mention the people who help me,” Dubsky said. “Coaching is a team enterprise.”
The Geneva assistants include Alex Stuetzer, Frank Carraher and Brian Belconis. St. John coach Todd Nassief, Bob and Kathy Walker at Pinelakes and Kevin Lillie help in every way imaginable.
“I can’t say enough about the coaches, especially Stutz,” Dubsky said. “Through the course of a match, I put him down at the other end of the court and I don’t even have to go down there. I don’t even worry about what he’s doing.
“A lot of other people come in and help the kids in the offseason. I have to thank them for anything they may have done to help the kids. That’s what we’re here for. I’ll take any help I can get.”
There is another contributor who makes a contribution the program.
“John McMahan is always helping the team,” Dubsky said. “He buys shirts for the team and honors somebody. This year, it was Adam Fowler, who was a guy from back in the ’70s or ’80s. I thank John for doing that and remembering a great guy for the competitor he was.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula. Reach him at email@example.com.