Tredyffrin – The mantra for Conestoga boys’ tennis coach Brittany Aimone is simple: “Expect Nothing, Experience Everything.”
Aimone said, “To me it essentially means go out there, be bold, take risks, step outside your comfort zone, get FUN-comfortable, have no expectation on what the risk is going to give you in return–just take away the experience. Only then will you experience growth of character.”
Taking the reins of the Conestoga boys tennis team this spring, her mantra certainly paid dividends for a team that has experienced plenty of recent success, including two state playoff appearances (2014 and 2015) and a PIAA District One Class AAA crown in 2015.
“The biggest difference I noticed this year was all of the drills we did,” said senior co-captain Cahlin Pragada, who played No. 2 singles. “We did hitting, volleying and footwork drills which definitely helped us get better.”
Fellow senior co-captain Kai Czubryt-Ogino, who played No. 1 doubles with freshman Matt Watson added, “Coach Aimone also worked on strategy with us and where to be positioned on the court along with helping us in the mental part was key to our success.”
Entering their final regular season match against visiting Lower Merion on May 2, the Pioneers did so with a chance to clinch their first Central League crown since 2015.
Although the match did not go their way, the Pioneers did not hang their heads, knowing it was only one match and plenty of tennis ahead of them.
“It was a tough match to lose,” Pragada said. “However it was good for the younger kids to experience this. They need to learn its okay to lose and that it doesn’t come easy.”
With their loss to Lower Merion being one of the first times they faced adversity, Aimone was interested to see how they would respond.
Her mind was quickly put at ease with Conestoga winning their first two PIAA District One Class AAA tournament matches to secure their berth in the state tournament.
“The loss to Lower Merion would have to be the largest hurdle that our players had to overcome this season,” said Aimone. “They were able to respond to the loss in a high pressure situation by defeating Wissahickon and Upper Dublin to secure a berth in states.”
In the state tournament, the Pioneers would be hitting the road if they wanted to reach Hershey. In the regional round, they traveled to Allentown and defeated district 11 Champion Liberty 3-2 to advance to what is dubbed “The Sweetest Place on Earth.”
Unfortunately, the Pioneers would not leave Hershey with a sweet taste after falling to State College to end a successful campaign highlighted by a return trip to the sate tournament.
While the seniors will certainly be missed, the Pioneers return a relatively young roster – sophomore Ahmed Aboseada at No. 1 singles; junior Carson Lortz at No. 3 singles; freshman Matt Walton, who played No.1 doubles with Czubryt-Ogino; sophomore Stephen Le, who played No. 2 doubles with senior Sebastian Urrunaga; freshman Sam Weintraub, who played No. 3 doubles with senior Austin Han and freshmen Henry Danon and Nishanth Kopri, who teamed up at No. 4 doubles.
“Going off with what this season provided, I know that my players will be preparing to make a deeper run into playoffs in the following season. I anticipate a very competitive group, as we have a lot of young talent coming into our system,” said Aimone.
“I am excited to see what this team does in the future,” said Czubryt-Ogino. “We as seniors tried to show them tennis can be a lifetime sport and teamwork is the key to success.”