LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The rebuilding process of the Covenant men's tennis team continued in 2016. Under head coach John Hirte, the Scots finished 5-13 overall, but just narrowly missed qualifying for the USA South Tournament with a 4-6 conference record.
The season came on the heels of a breakthrough season in 2015, but Hirte is optimistic about the future. "We had great leadership from our captains, and continued to work hard all season despite some really tough losses," Hirte said.
Harvie put together one of the top seasons in program history. The sophomore was named USA South Player of the Year after going 9-1 against the conference in singles play, including a victory over 2015 All-American Sebastian Sikh of North Carolina Wesleyan, and went 13-4 overall. The 13 singles wins are the second-most in a single-season in program history. With his play, Harvie earned a region ranking from the ITA in the March 31 poll at No. 21.
"Matthew had a tremendous year at No. 1, and I'm thrilled he was awarded player of the year and achieved a regional ranking," Hirte added.
Fellow sophomore Cox was selected to the All-USA South second team for a second consecutive season following an 11-7 season at the No. 2 spot in singles. Together, Cox and Harvie went 11-5 at No. 1 doubles on the year.
Covenant entered the final weekend of regular season play with a shot at making the conference tournament. The Scots helped their cause with a 5-4 victory over LaGrange on April 8 as junior Connor Shimmel notched the match-clincher at No. 4 singles with a thrilling three-set victory.
"We also achieved some huge successes this year-- especially beating LaGrange for the first time since 2012, after losing by 5-4 scores the past two years," Hirte noted.
Seniors Travis Hutchinson and Nathan Hernandez wrapped up their careers during the year. Hutchinson won five singles matches, while he and Hernandez combined for a doubles win on Senior Day. Freshman Trey Wood was Covenant's representative on the USA South All-Sportsmanship team and sophomore Dan Madden also contributed throughout the year.
Hirte added, "While it may not have showed in our won-lost record, we are continuing to make strides forward as a program and I look forward to what's in store next year."
USA South Player of the Year
USA South All-Conference
Matthew Harvie - first team
Chris Cox - second team
USA South All-Sportsmanship
USA South Player of the Week
Matthew Harvie - Feb. 29
Chris Cox - March 21
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