Tennis: Sentz, South Western loading back up
South Western's Ben Sentz likes to keep himself busy.
There's running cross country in fall, basketball in the winter. And in the spring, there's tennis.
"I generally come into the season a tiny bit rusty," Sentz said. "I say I have about two weeks to knock the rust off before the tennis season."
A first-team YAIAA all-star last season, Sentz spent the majority of the year as the Mustangs' No. 2 singles player. He finished third in the YAIAA Class AAA singles tournament. This season, the senior is hoping to continue his strong play.
"I just try to go out and do my best and help my team win," Sentz said. "Hopefully, our team can make it to districts, and we had a state run last year and it may be high expectations, but hopefully we can do that again (this year)."
Sentz's preparations have impressed his team.
"Ben has just worked really hard," Mustangs head coach Karen Cracium said. "When he does get done his basketball season, he jumps into tennis whole-heartedly."
Playing three sports not only offers him physical advantages, but mental ones as well.
"It keeps me in shape year round, which is something a lot of people don't have the advantage of doing," Sentz said. "The mentality of not giving up is a big thing, and the teamwork aspect of all three sports."
Both of Sentz's parents played tennis, and having started playing the game at a young age, the Mustang senior has always enjoyed it.
"I just always grew up in a tennis environment," Sentz said. "I just like hitting the ball and how you can play individually or with a teammate, so you get the best of both worlds, I guess."
The Mustangs went 8-0 in league play last season on the way to the YAIAA Division I championship. South Western finished third in the District 3 team tournament to clinch a spot in the PIAA team tournament.
"The high point was definitely when our team beat Hershey and made it to states," Sentz said. "It was a big team win. It was really a cool moment."
Sentz also teamed with Mustangs No. 1 singles player Gavin Kenny to finish third in the league doubles tournament last year. The duo has been playing tennis together since their junior team tennis days.
"We have a better connection with each other and can say what's on our mind," Sentz said. "We know what we need to do."
Cracium, who was in her first year leading the boys' team last season, said Sentz's attitude stood out.
"The biggest thing about Ben and his game is that he doesn't quit," Cracium said. "I have seen him come back when you thought there was no possibility of him coming back. As a coach, you can't ask for anything more than his fighting spirit."
One of his big victories of the season came when South Western defeated Central York to clinch the division crown. Sentz defeated Central's Jeremy Garling, 6-1, 6-4, in the No. 2 singles match.
"You can't ever get down on yourself," Sentz said. "That's pretty much the biggest thing. I dont think about winning or losing, I just focus on the next point and what I have to do to win the next point."
Sentz is aiming to achieve even more on the court this year with some improved skills.
"In general, I've tried to pick up the pace and be more aggressive with my shots, especially with my forehand and I'm trying to flatten it out more and hit it with more power," Sentz said.
Sentz said he doesn't feel like there is a target on his back coming off an all-star season, and he's just trying to enjoy his final sports season.
"I just want to lead my team to victories and set the example for my team," Sentz said. "There's really no personal pressure on me. It's going to be bittersweet. I'm getting excited for college and the future, but it's going to be tough knowing that this is my season. I'm just going to give it my all and hopefully be able to look back and say that I did everything I could to help my team win."
Division I: South Western
Division II: York Suburban
YAIAA Class AAA tournament: Singles, John Schmitt, Dallastown. Doubles, Schmitt and Tyler Lilie, Dallastown. Schmitt graduated; Lilie is a junior.
YAIAA Class AA tournament: Singles, Elliot Diehl, York Suburban. Doubles, Diehl and Michael Peck, York Suburban. Diehl and Peck both graduated.