Boys Tennis: Match-winner highlights Griffith's sophomore season with OUAZ

Former Rochelle tennis standout Noah Griffith won two singles matches, including a match-clinching victory against Western New Mexico, for the Ottawa University Arizona men's team this season. (Photo courtesy of OUAZ athletics)

RTHS grad enters starting lineup, earns two singles victories for Spirit

While his sophomore season may have been cut short, former Rochelle Township High School standout Noah Griffith was able to crack the starting lineup and earn his first real taste of collegiate tennis with the Ottawa University Arizona men’s program this year.

Griffith rotated anywhere from No. 4 to No. 6 singles for the Spirit this season, recording two victories including the match-deciding win against Western New Mexico on Feb. 14, when he rallied to defeat Erik Dallmann 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Griffith’s final match of the 2020 season, which was ultimately canceled due to coronavirus concerns, was a two-set victory against Marymount California’s Andrew Herd, who Griffith topped 6-4, 6-2.

“This season was definitely fun while it lasted,” Griffith said. “I was in the lineup for every match and I also played some doubles. One of my favorite moments was clinching the match against Western New Mexico. I pushed the match to a third set and my teammates rushed the court when I won, which was an unforgettable experience.”

Despite a slow start to their season, the Spirit won their final two matches over Westmont and Marymount California before the remainder of the season was canceled. While disappointed, Griffith said the downtime from competing will motivate him to stay in shape and play as much tennis as possible before the Spirit return to the court for the 2021 campaign.

“It was definitely disappointing because as an athlete, not being able to finish out the season is heartbreaking,” Griffith said. “We were coming off two big conference wins, but all we can do now is hope and pray that this virus clears and that we stand together and trust the Lord… My goals for next season are to win more matches, and I want to do as much as I can to contribute to the success of my team. Winning the conference and making nationals would be incredible.”

Three of the first seven losses Ottawa University Arizona suffered this season were against ranked opponents, which Griffith said have been positive learning experiences for he and his teammates. Griffith said he’s continuing to improve in all facets of his game, and his goals for next season are to be sharper with his serves, volleys and staying on top of his points.

“I want to continue working on every aspect of my game and the little things,” Griffith said. “I feel I’ve always had good energy and a good attitude… I had to adjust to being in the lineup every match and having a certain comfort level. We played a lot of tough ranked teams, but those matches were opportunities for us to learn and grow.”

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