Century boys tennis coach Trey Howes pulled Luke Fetterman and John Marcellino aside after the first day of tryouts and told them they could have the year they wanted to have — it was up to them.
The No. 1 doubles partners were given accountability from the start and have already begun to set high standards not just for themselves, but for the entire team.
Fetterman and Marcellino returned after a successful junior season that resulted in a 17-1 record and county and Region VIII tournament titles. They advanced to the state tournament at Wilde Lake Tennis Club in Columbia, but were eliminated in straight sets in the first round.
“It was awesome,” Fetterman said. “As juniors, coming out in the first doubles, it was pretty cool beating some of the seniors out there and making our mark. Now, coming into senior year, I think we have a lot to offer.”
Century played its season opener Monday against Manchester Valley, and defeated the Mavs 3-2. The Knights won all three of their doubles matches — Fetterman and Marcellino beat Mason Castanzo and Sean McGarry 6-1, 6-1.
Fetterman said he picked up tennis in sixth grade after his father had a hip replacement. The two used the sport as a form of exercise, and Fetterman started taking lessons with Marcellino a few years prior to joining the team at Century.
Marcellino said the duo had it in their minds to play doubles together when they got to high school, so it was only fitting when they were the lone freshmen to make varsity that first year.
They played No. 3 doubles as freshmen, No. 2 doubles as sophomores, and moved up to No. 1 as juniors. Last spring they earned Times first-team all-county honors.
“I think it’s just a test of mental endurance because the matches take so long,” Marcellino said. “There’s just such a mental aspect of it that winning just feels really good, especially when you’re down and you have to overcome a mental barrier and whether or not you’re able to overcome that is pretty exciting.”
The two train together in the summer and try to train as much as possible when they’re not competing. They constantly remain energized when they are competing, whether it’s with a fist bump or a swift high five.
Keeping each other in high spirits is a plus too, Marcellino said.
“When you think of tennis, you think it’s more of an individual sport but I like the team aspect where you have the team in general, but also me and John, you know,” Fetterman said. “We pick up each other’s slack and it’s nice building on our relationship throughout the years. That’s what I like about playing in high school.”
The Knights were supposed to play their first match last Thursday, but Carroll County Public Schools were forced to close in the aftermath of Winter Storm Toby that prevented spring teams from practicing and playing.
Marcellino said he was thankful the team didn’t have to shovel any snow away from the courts this year and added that the team has an equal expectation of going into every practice prepared to perform their best for the following match.
Howes, a Century grad, is confident in two of his senior leaders. The team, as a whole, makes his job easier because they know what’s expected of them, he said.
“I said there’s going to be practices where you’re certainly going to be in the dog days and who’s going to be willing to step up and say ‘Hey guys, we have to focus, we have a big match tomorrow,” Howes said. “Those two, they made it to the state tournament as juniors and not many guys do that. That should be the expectation and to get even further.