When Ethan Schuster was younger, he would always stop by towards the end of the Nordonia girls tennis team’s matches to watch his older sister play for the Knights. He would also hit around once in a while during the summer.
“Ethan was never too serious about it, though. He’d hit around and just have fun, ”Nordonia boys and girls head tennis coach Ryan Vehar said. “He showed up the first day of practice for the boys team this year, and I looked at him and said, ‘Hey, are you thinking of playing tennis?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’
“As he started practicing on our team, I thought I’d get that same kid who didn’t take it seriously, but he was pretty intense and was getting into tennis and playing and learning.”
Schuster, a freshman, has been playing mainly No. 1 doubles this season with sophomore Raleigh Daboo.
“When Ethan is playing his matches, he’s very focused, and he and Raleigh are trying really hard,” said Vehar. “Ethan is really trying to get better. He holds himself to a high standard, almost too high sometimes where his body isn’t capable yet of pulling off what his mind thinks it can do. But I’d rather have that than someone who isn’t taking it seriously. He’s going up against a lot of upperclassmen from other schools.
“Ethan has good instincts. He’s pretty good from the net, is one of our most consistent net players. He’s still learning it. He just kind of has a knack for getting his racquet on the ball at the net and keeping it in play. He’s learning to start focusing on actually where he wants to hit that ball more than just being happy to hit it. That’s a process in itself, but he’s working on it. “
Schuster, who also played on Nordonia’s freshman football team last fall, came reasonably close to notching his first win of the April 29 season during Nordonia’s 3-2 loss at Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin. He and Daboo fell 6-4, 6-3.
“It was a pretty close match. Their opponents were a little bit older than them and a little more experienced than them, ”Vehar said. “But Ethan and Raleigh fought hard. They were pretty close in that first set but just didn’t get a couple breaks. Then, the second set was tight, too, back and forth early on. Then they got behind and couldn’t come back. ”
The Knights slipped to 2-12 on the season.
Three days earlier, on April 26, Schuster teamed up with senior DJ Wheeler at second doubles and lost 6-0, 6-0 during a 5-0 defeat at home to Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. The next day, on April 27, Schuster and Daboo fell 6-1, 6-1 during a 5-0 loss at home to Suburban League National Conference rival North Royalton.
On April 30 in the Suburban League Meet at league crossover rival Medina Highland, Schuster and Daboo lost 6-0, 6-0 to a team from Wadsworth and then fell 8-0 to a team from Twinsburg. Despite the loss to Twinsburg, Schuster made one heck of a play that will not soon be forgotten.
“Ethan ran a ball down that most kids may not even have attempted,” Vehar said. “It was over his head off the back of the court, and he took off for it. He was almost behind the other court, but he got his racquet around, popped the ball back and got the ball in. He hustled right back and was back on the court by the time the opponent hit the ball again. I think we actually won the point. ”
Overall, Nordonia finished seventh out of seven teams.
According to the coach, all of the losses would take their toll on some players, but not Schuster and Daboo.
“Both Ethan and Raleigh go into most of their pretty intense matchups,” he said. “It would be great if we had some more upperclassmen for the fact that Ethan could be playing at a level that would be more suitable for him right now. But, on the other hand, he’s gaining experience and he’s going to our big tournaments as a varsity player. Hopefully, he sticks with it, and that’s going to pay dividends in years to come. “