Cole Shifferly had a freshman season to remember for Bellmont tennis. He went 16-4 and made it to the IHSAA individual state finals. He fell 6-0, 6-0 to Sajin Smith of Perry Meridian in the quarterfinals at state, but solidified his spot as one of Northeast Indiana's top tennis players – and hopefully attracted more players to tennis in the process.
“It was a really good experience,” Shifferly said. “I had never played at that level before, so it was a little different. They have line judges and people call the score for you, so it was just a really good experience to just hang out and have fun.”
Shifferly's off to a hot start in his sophomore season and hopes to build off last year.
“Just trying to ride the momentum and trying to achieve and move forward,” Shifferly said. “Trying to help the team as much as I can to encourage them and to help move them forward.”
Shifferly fell to West Noble's Joel Mast 6-0, 6-0 in the No.1 singles championship at the DeKalb Invitational Saturday, but they were the most competitive players on the court.
“It's just really good tennis,” Bellmont coach and Shifferly's dad Matt Shifferly said. “It's really neat to see two good players square off, and even though Cole's score was way off, still lots of good points, really good point structures and hitting the ball as hard as they are it's cool to see.”
Cole Shifferly has been busy over the summer. He's coming off five tournament wins over the past month, including three singles and two doubles.
“Just working on being aggressive and putting net balls away is really what I've been working on,” he said. “My serve as well and just working on being aggressive on that and getting up in play early.”
Matt Shifferly said he's proud of the way his son's game has evolved, physically and mentally.
“He does a really good job on staying focused on the positive parts of a matches, that's really hard for a lot of kids to do,” he said. “He keeps his head on his shoulders.”
Matt Shifferly leads a young Bellmont team that's in a rebuilding process. The team features seven new players who are new to the sport completely.
“We lost five last year, so we've got more players than we had last year, which is nice because the program is growing,” Matt Shifferly said. “We're hoping to build tennis in Decatur and get that built back up; it's been kinda declining over the last 10 years or so, so trying to get it back up.”
Cole's mother, Hilary Shifferly, started a tennis program at the middle school, with hopes of recruiting more kids to the sport prior to high school. It's in its second year.
“We're developing those kids younger, so when they do get to high school as freshman, they not only know how to hit the ball, but they know point structures and some things before they even get to freshman year,” Matt Shifferly said.
Cole Shifferly lost handedly to Mast, but he still can use it as a learning experience going forward.
“It's rough to go out there and compete, and do you best and try to brush it off, knowing that you might not be able to do something about every shot,” he said. “Just try to keep your head on your shoulders and try to work the point a little bit.”