SPRING ALL-AREA: Wehrli named LCR's Tennis Player of the Year
After stepping away from tennis for about five years, Cole Wehrli decided to try his hand again, returning to the court in his first high school season at Columbia.
The freshman didn't disappoint.
Wehrli started slow but progressed, dropping only two matches this year.
The rising sophomore shined in his first season, finishing with the best win/loss record in singles and doubles (7-2, 8-1) on the team. Wehrli exceeded expectations as the No. 4 player, reaching the District 3A finals in both singles and doubles back in April.
"He really came through after not playing for five years," Columbia coach Tom Moore said. "His record speaks for itself."
Wehrli's breakout season was enough to earn him the Lake City Reporter's Tennis Player of the Year. His arrival came at the right time as Columbia boys lost key players from last year's team in his brother, Reid, and Colin Broome. He teamed up with rising junior Jacob Zechler during doubles this past season. The opportunity to compete with Zechler was one of the biggest reasons for joining the program, Wehrli says.
"Me and my buddy Jacob have known each other for a really long time," said Wehrli, who was also named J.V. soccer team MVP. "And I wanted to help coach Tom."
Wehrli and Zechler were a strong one-two punch for the Tigers. The two reached the doubles district finals and helped Columbia placed third out of eight teams.
"And they didn't lose often," Moore said.
After being away from tennis, Wehrli credits his smooth transition to Moore.
"The best part of this year was just learning everything from Tom," he said. "He's such an amazing coach. I don't think I would've gotten half as far without him. The team wouldn't have gotten as far without him. I'm surprised how good we did, and it's all because of him."
While Wehrli went furthest at districts, Moore says each player – Brien Boudreau, Tanner Thomas, Christian Choing and Zecher – were all deserving of the award.
"Without any one of these players, we wouldn't have been in the position when we entered districts," the longtime coach said. "We would not have won third if it weren't for Tanner coming through. Christian stepped up to play one. Brien came through at No.5 and Jacob was our solid No.3 … I truly believe it was the team that made the CHS tennis player of the year."
Wehrli says he plans to rejoin the tennis team in 2019 after a standout first season.
"He referees soccer matches and also coaches a junior team," Moore said of the two-sport athlete. "I know his first love is soccer but I'm hoping he'll come back out and dedicate himself to the game of the tennis next year."