Bobcats’ Cole wants to make title run

Published 8:39 am Thursday, October 15, 2015

It was no ordinary tennis match Oct. 8 for Brandywine sophomore Caleb Cole as he faced Bridgman’s Tim Dunkel in the last match at the Division 4 regional.

A win by Cole at No. 4 singles would give the Bobcats a share of the regional title with Paw Paw.

While viewing the match, Brandywine boys tennis coach Dave Sidenbender was asked if he felt any pressure.

“Not on me,” Sidenbender said.

Dunkel eventually prevailed, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), but Cole had continued to impress his coach.

“He’s a great competitor,” Sidenbender said about Cole. “I’m happy with the way he played. This is the third three-set match he’s played against that kid this year. They split the first two. He just didn’t come out on top this time, but we’re still really proud of him.”

A frustrated Cole got words of encouragement from his coach after the tough defeat.

“I just thought I could win that match,” Cole said. “I’ve beaten that kid before. I knew what was at stake. I tried my best, but he was pretty good. It’s always a close match against him.”

Cole had an idea why he didn’t win.

“Today, I was kind of getting tired,” Cole admitted. “I kind of play better when I’m not tired. I also play better when it’s a little colder and it got hot today a little bit.”

The good news for Cole is that his season didn’t end at the regional. He’ll learn more valuable lessons Friday and Saturday when the Bobcats compete at the state finals at Kalamazoo College.

“Hopefully, we can get at least in the top 10,” Cole said about his expectations for the state finals. “I want to make a run at No. 4 singles because I think I can.”

Cole will take a 20-4 record into the state finals. The record is pretty impressive when you consider this is Cole’s first year playing singles at the varsity level. He played No. 2 doubles as a freshman.

“Yeah, I’m a little surprised,” Cole said about his record. “I went up against some good competition and I was able to win some of those matches.”

Sidenbender likes how Cole has adjusted to being at singles.

“I think he’s improved his patience and discipline during matches,” the Brandywine coach said. “He’s seen at No. 4 singles that you have to be more patient. You can’t go for your shot all the time. They’re going to hit a lot of balls back. I think his serve got better over the year too.”

Cole learned quickly that there’s a difference between playing singles and doubles.

“In singles, you get different shots because there are different lines,” Cole said. “I’ve had to learn to shorten the court.”

Cole doesn’t have a long tennis career. He didn’t start playing the sport until two years ago. At that time, over the summer, played with the Brandywine High School girls tennis team.

“My sister (Abbey) pretty much made me like tennis,” Caleb said.

Abbey, who just graduated, was at No. 1 singles last season for the Bobcats.

Caleb is glad that his sister got him involved in the sport.

“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “I like playing tennis. It’s very rewarding.”
Sidenbender is glad that Cole has added another high school sport to his schedule. Cole also plays basketball and baseball.

“He’s done a great job,” Sidenbender said. “I’m really happy to have him on the team.”