SPRING ALL-AREA: Boys Tennis

By Josh Grant, Sun Correspondent

THE KAPPELMANN FILE

Parents: Suzanne and Brian Kappelmann
Siblings: Andy, Arianna, Nathan, Vallerie.
College: SCF for associates and then transfer to UNF to study nutrition.

Intended major: Nutrition
Favorite pre-match food: Chipotle
Favorite school subject: Law
Favorite non-tennis sport: Soccer
Favorite TV show: American Ninja Warrior

Favorite music: Country

ENGLEWOOD — There seems to be a holiday for everything these days.

Marizpan Day, Clean Out Your Computer Day and Eat Your Vegetables Day are just a few of the countless examples of ridiculous holidays created by the internet.

Thursday, June 8, is known as Best Friends Day; a day to show your BFF just how much you mean to them in your own, special way.

Where was Lemon Bay senior — now graduate — David Kappelmann?

On the tennis court with his doubles partner, best friend and fellow graduate, Liam Ryan.

How about Thursday, June 9? You guessed it, they were back out on the court.

And the 10th? The narrative continues.

The two always are playing tennis, constantly pushing each other to be better, even though their high school careers are now officially over.

“It’s obviously a really good thing to have a best friend to play doubles with,” Ryan said. “He’s always a step above everyone else.”

It’s that extra step that Kappelmann has developed through the help of Ryan, his coaches and a work ethic second to none, that has led him to be named The Sun’s Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

As the No. 1 singles and doubles player for the third year in a row, Kappelmann captained the Manta Rays to a 10-5 overall record, his first district championship at No. 1 and qualified for the state tournament in both singles and doubles.

“We went into the year knowing we had a solid team,” Kappelmann said. “Coach (Mike Maier) said that I had a chance to win nine or 10 matches this year, and I really wanted to do that.”

Kappelmann achieved an 18-13 overall record between singles and doubles, but came to a crossing point against a tough, but familiar opponent in Charlotte High’s Christian Guzman.

The duo is as familiar as anyone in the local tennis scene. They have been facing off as No. 1s since their sophomore year.

Kappelmann won the first set and Guzman the second, before a final tiebreaker, which Guzman won in heart-breaking fashion for Kappelmann, 10-7.

“After that tough match, I had to contemplate where I stood,” Kappelmann said. “I had issues going on in my head asking myself why did I play this match if I wasn’t going to win.”

After the loss, Kappelmann showed true grit and resilience as he ripped off a string of five straight victories, leading up to the district tournament.

“(Kappelmann) leads by example,” Maier said. “He has really tried to figure out a way to play his best against whomever he was playing.”

Tony Geraci, a USPTA Elite professional and the tennis pro at Englewood Tennis Club, has been coaching Kappelmann since he was 8-years old and saw a big change in him since he decided to commit to one sport.

“There were a lot of matches this year that he stayed in, or won, where he was physically outmatched,” Geraci said. “But cerebrally, he can outmatch anyone.

“(Kappelmann) has the ability to find out what his opponent doesn’t like and he gives it to them in huge doses.”

While individual accolades are always nice, the story behind Kappelmann’s and Ryan’s foray into doubles tennis makes their success even sweeter.

Having played together since they were 8, Kappelmann tried to get Ryan to try out for the high school tennis team after their freshman year, but Ryan was focused on playing soccer. Kappelmann persisted, pestering and badgering his best friend into near submission, but Ryan wouldn’t budge.

So how did Kappelmann get Ryan to try out?

“I put (Ryan’s) name down on the tryout list without him knowing,” Kappelmann said. “He wasn’t sure if he was able to play because of soccer, but I forced him to try out and the rest turned out well.”

The special bond between the two is one you hope to have at some point in life, and one that helped push each other both athletically and academically.

“We know exactly what each other is thinking out there,” Kappelmann said. “We’re training partners, so we know how to help each other out, and we balance each other out really well. It’s great having a player like that with me.”

The two mainly play matches against each other in order to help improve their strengths and weaknesses, and with such a regimented, daily routine, conventional wisdom has to say that the record is even, right?

“He beats me every single time,” Ryan said. “I know what’s coming, but I have to try my best and get better every time. There’s not much I can do about it.”

Although the season didn’t end the way Kappelmann and Ryan wanted, the lessons they’ve learned as partners, teammates, and friends, are worth more to each other than what can be understood at this age.

With Kappelmann staying home to attend SCF to focus on his studies, and Ryan off to Florida Gulf Coast, the question begs, where will the two be on Best Friend’s Day next year?

“Same as usual,” Kappelmann said. “We’ll be at a park somewhere, or playing at Englewood Tennis Club where we work. We won’t see or play each other as often, but we’ll definitely be somewhere.”

ALL-AREA TEAM

Liam Ryan
Lemon Bay • Senior
Lemon Bay’s co-captain combined to go 19-11 between singles and doubles. He was a district champion as the No. 2 singles player and part of the No. 1 doubles duo with David Kappelmann that won district and region titles to qualify for state.

Enrique Subero
Lemon Bay • Freshman
Combined to go 22-6 between singles and doubles. Won district titles as Lemon Bay’s No. 3 singles player and with Noah Pirro as the No. 2 doubles team.

Noah Pirro
Lemon Bay • Freshman
Combined to go 20-4 between singles and doubles. Won district titles as Lemon Bay’s No. 4 singles player and with Enrique Subero as the No. 2 doubles team.

Tanner Stewart
Lemon Bay • Senior
Went a perfect 9-0 and won a district title as Lemon Bay’s No. 5 singles player after missing the first part of the season with a broken wrist.

Honorable mention

Charlotte: Cristian Guzman, Quinn McIntyre, Michael Gunderson
Port Charlotte: Matt McGee, Derek Botts

All-Area team compiled by Jordan Kroeger

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