LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The rebuliding process for the Covenant men's tennis program took a big leap forward in 2015. After winning two matches over the last two years, the Scots pulled together eight wins, five in the USA South, and qualified for the USA South Tournament for the first time in head coach John Hirte's third year.
The five conference victories set a program record, while the eight overall wins was the most since 2010.
The Scots finished the year 8-9 (5-4 in the USA South) which earned them a trip to Rocky Mount, N.C., to compete for the conference championship as the sixth seed. The Scots lost a tightly contested match to No. 3 seed Huntingdon, 5-4, but the season was undoubtedly a step in the right direction for head coach John Hirte's squad.
MATCH OF THE YEAR: Covenant 5, Methodist 4 (March 27):
Coming off two straight losses, Covenant came back home to meet perennial USA South power Methodist, a team that would eventually play in the conference title game.
The Scots started off on the right foot as it took two of the three doubles matches. Matthew Harvie and Chris Cox knocked off Asa Britt and Seth Grant 8-3 at the No. 1 spot, while Michael O'Brien and Dan Madden defeated Max Mancini and Mark Tarentino 8-5 at No. 2.
In singles play, it was Cox's three set victory at No. 2 that sealed the win for the Scots. Cox rallied after dropping the first set to come away with the match-clincher 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Harvie bested Mancini 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 and O'Brien was victorious at No. 3 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Grant.
Two of the biggest contributors to Covenant's turnaround were newcomers. Freshmen Chris Cox and Matthew Harvie were consistent all season long in the top slots for singles and as partners at No. 1 doubles.
Harvie, from Grayson, Ga., spent most of the season as the No. 1 singles player for the Scots and went 9-5 on the year, including a 6-2 mark in conference play. Harvie was tabbed as the USA South Player of the Week on March 9, and was named to the USA South All-Conference first team.
Cox capably filled the No. 2 singles slot behind Harvie, leading the team in victories with 10. The Maitland, Fla. native went 6-3 in the USA South and was named to the USA South All-Conference second team. Cox's 10 singles wins were the most in a season for a player since 2011. He was also the Scots' representative on the All-Sportsmanship team.
Harvie and Cox combined to go 9-4 (6-3 USA South) as doubles partners, all from the No. 1 spot. In the loss to Huntingdon in the tournament, the duo won their doubles match while each took care of his singles opponents to contribute three of Covenant's four points in the loss.
Michael O'Brien, a sophomore from Nashville, Tenn., also had a successful year, tying Harvie for second on the team with nine victories. O'Brien went 6-3 in conference play and contributed nine victories in doubles action, mostly at No. 2.
USA South Coach of the Year:
USA South All-Conference
Matthew Harvie- 1st team
Chris Cox- 2nd team
USA South Player (and Rookie) of the Week
Matthew Harvie (March 9)
USA South All-Sportsmanship