Coward fuels Bucks’ state title chances
Published 2:39 am Thursday, April 24, 2003
By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Every match he wins, he is raising the bar.
Buchanan senior Bryce Coward is the most successful tennis player in school history, owning a 102-6 career record which is believed to be the best all-time in southwest Michigan.
But nothing would be sweeter for Coward than to finish his high school career with a win, for him or for his team.
The Bucks have won three straight Division 4 Regional titles, but have never won a state title. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett has won the state title three of the last four years and has also been Coward's personal nemesis throughout his high school career.
Alex Conti, who now plays No. 4 singles at the University of Wisconsin, is a graduate of Liggett and has beaten Coward every year at the state finals on his way to the state title.
The Buchanan tennis team, however, may have its best chance to win the state championship this season. With Conti gone, Liggett is ranked No. 5 while the Bucks are in the No. 2 spot. Only Muskegon Catholic Central is ranked higher than Buchanan and those two teams will meet this weekend at the Catholic Central Tournament.
With Coward working hard to reach the summit of high school tennis, the rest of the Bucks feel they have an excellent shot at the team title as well.
And what about Coward's chances to win the No. 1 singles title?
Coward is a three-time All-State player who owns a 3.82 grade point average and has accepted a tennis scholarship from the University of Denver.
Coaching him has been a "once in a lifetime experience," Bender said. "He's a strong leader by example. Having Bryce on the team has made everyone better and forced me to be a better coach."
Of course, Buchanan High School is not the only place Coward has worked to hone his skills.
Win or lose, Coward's high school career will end at the end of this season. While his skills will be sorely missed, Bender feels he has left an indelible mark on the Buchanan tennis program that will fuel the fire for future players.