LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Picked to finish second in the preseason USA South poll, the Covenant men's tennis team did one better than that and produced one of the best seasons in program history in 2017.
The Scots claimed a share of the program's first regular season conference title while winning a program-record 12 matches. Covenant finished 7-1 in the USA South to share the West Division title, but earned the No. 1 seed in the league tournament before falling in the semifinals.
The awards rolled in for the Scots after their successful season as head coach John Hirte was named USA South Coach of the Year, while Matthew Harvie was a first team All-USA South and All-West Division honoree. Chris Cox also earned first team All-West Division honors.
Harvie put together another outstanding season going 13-4 in singles play and 14-7 in doubles. He was ranked in the first three ITA region polls of the spring and is currently No. 22 in the region ahead of the final poll release on June 1. In addition to his All-Conference honors, Harvie also earned a USA South Player of the Week award and was named to the USA South All-Tournament team.
The second part of Covenant's one-two punch at the top of the lineup was Cox. The junior set a program record with 15 doubles victories, 14 coming with Harvie, while leading the team with 14 singles wins. The 29 total victories were the most in a single-season in program history.
Harvie and Cox did their damage at the top of the lineup, but a pair of freshman bolstered the middle part of the order throughout the year. Logan Hull and Micah Fox combined to win 24 singles matches and were the No. 2 doubles team going 12-9. Hull was a two-time USA South Rookie of the Week honoree and finished 13-9 overall in singles play. Fox played most of the year at the No. 4 spot and produced an 11-9 record, including a 7-1 mark against the USA South.
Playing a tough non-conference schedule that included NCAA Division I member Chattanooga, the Scots got off to a tough start as they were just 3-6 overall in early March. But the season began to turn in mid-March as Covenant would win five of its next seven matches. Included in that stretch were key USA South victories over LaGrange and Huntingdon putting the Scots in a position near the top of the West standings.
Covenant's title hopes got a jolt of energy on March 28. Facing a Piedmont team on the road that had already defeated the Scots earlier in the year, Covenant put together one of its most complete and dominating performances of the year. The Scots would sweep the doubles portion and win the match by a 7-2 score pulling Covenant into a tie atop the division.
The momentum carried into April with the Scots winning the first four matches of the month. An 8-1 win over LaGrange on April 8 clinched a share of the USA South West Division title and then the Scots won a coin flip with Piedmont to seal the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
Sophomore Trey Wood and senior Connor Shimmel made up the doubles team at No. 3 where they went 11-11 on the year. Freshman Ben Tonkel recorded a 9-9 overall singles mark, and was named Covenant's representative on the USA South All-Sportsmanship team, and fellow freshman Trey Wetjen went 6-6 for the season.
To cap the year, the Scots were selected as the USA South Team Sportsmanship Award winner for men's tennis. It was the second time in the past four years that Covenant has earned the award.
Matthew Harvie - first team
USA South Coach of the Year
USA South All-Sportsmanship
USA South Player of the Week
Matthew Harvie - Feb. 27
USA South Rookie of the Week
Logan Hull - Feb. 20, April 3
USA South Team Sportsmanship
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