FORTVILLE — “Hardest worker we’ve ever had in 26 years at Mt. Vernon.”
Plain and simple, that quote from Mt. Vernon tennis head coach Gabe Muterspaugh, personifies why junior Adam Koon is where he’s at in his tennis career.
Koon was named second-team all-state by the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association and set a school record this past season with 24 wins at No. 1 singles.
That success didn’t always come easy for the Daily Reporter 2022 Boys Tennis Athlete of the Year though.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Owen, Koon didn’t begin playing competitive tennis until his freshman year at Mt. Vernon, and at the time was the No. 6 player on the junior varsity lineup.
“My brother already played, and I didn’t do a fall sport, so I was just like ‘sure I’ll do it, seems kind of fun’,” Koon said. “First day of freshman year was my first real tennis practice, but I didn’t start taking it really seriously until that winter. We had seven seniors and they went 21-2. People would jokingly say that we were going to be so bad next year and would lose every match, so that kind of motivated me.”
Fueled by that motivation, Koon fell in love with the sport quickly. A multi-sport athlete before, he quit all other sports to focus solely on tennis.
“It wasn’t difficult at all, it was easy. If I’m being honest with myself, I didn’t play much and was kind of a bench warmer,” Koon said. “For me, baseball was just kind of boring after playing tennis. I could sit there for three hours and get one at bat, or I could go out and play tennis where everything is on me.”
But while he no longer plays any other sports, he believes that helped him become the tennis player that he is today.
“I played almost every sport that I could, but I was pretty average at all of them,” Koon said. “I think that they all kind of molded together into tennis, though. Tennis uses footwork from basketball, stamina from cross-country, hand-eye coordination from baseball.”
With his focus now solely on tennis, he began working with then Mt. Vernon assistant coach Graham McMullen in the winter of his freshman year, and quickly began to surprise the Marauders coaching staff.
“He was always super athletic, but when Adam decided he wanted to be really good, he quit those other sports, started working with our assistant coach Graham McMullen, and they went to work,” Muterspaugh said. “It was six days a week, it was morning or night. So, yes it was a surprise, but knowing the type of person and the athlete that Adam was and if he put his mind to it, that kid can play anything.”
It doesn’t matter the day, or time. Chances are that if you drive by Mt. Vernon, you’ll see two people out on the tennis courts — Adam and whoever he is practicing with.
“The main thing is just trying to be consistent in how I practice. Just trying to make the most of every practice situation that I get. If I get two hours on the court, that’s great, I just have to go hard for two hours,” Koon said. “I think more importantly, what most people don’t realize is practicing hard for an hour is more beneficial than going lazy for three or four hours.”
That mindset of going hard every time you get a chance on the court, is what separates Adam from the pack, and why Muterspaugh has so much belief in him.
“It’s not a secret formula, it’s not magic, it’s not anything like that. It’s just plenty of hard work and the innate ability to believe in yourself,” Muterspaugh said. “I tell our guys all the time, if you want to just follow the formula that Adam does, it’s just plain and simple hard work. The kid just works harder than anyone we’ve had.”
That belief in himself is also what drives Koon.
“I just don’t want to let myself down. I feel like most people would say that they don’t want to let other people down, but to be honest I just don’t want to let myself down,” Koon said. “If I have the potential and something that I can max out, I want to get that for myself.”
The potential of Koon has yet to be fully tapped. Muterspaugh and the coaching staff recognize that and have worked on strengthening their schedule over the past two seasons. Last season, they added semi-state qualifier Center Grove to the schedule, and are working on adding a few more top 30 teams for the 2023 season.
“I don’t think there’s anybody on our schedule that he can’t beat. The goal is for him to win state, and that’s a very high goal,” Muterspaugh added. “Only one person in the state is going to do it. But at the same time, you need to set those goals, and reach for those goals because that’s what drives you every day. I know it drives him,” Muterspaugh said. “His best tennis is still way ahead of him. Being so young in his tennis career, I think we’re going to see a massive transformation even next year where he’s not just the best player in Hancock County and the area, but one of the top players in all the central states.”
When Koon’s not on the court practicing or competing, he loves to manage his fantasy football team. But that success that he found on the tennis court this past season has been eluding him when it comes to his fantasy league.
“Our tennis team has a super competitive league,” Koon said. “I’m actually in ninth place out of 10, and the last place team has to dye their hair blue, so I’m focused and in a competitive race for that right now.”
So while he may be playing next season with a new hair color, his goals for the season have remained the same. From JV No. 6, to No. 1 varsity singles, to a member of an all-state team, he’s looking to take one more leap forward in his senior season.
“For an individual goal, I want to be a state qualifier, and I’d like to play in college, but that’s all up in the air right now,” Koon said. “I’m just focusing on getting better and the more competitive I get, the more opportunities will open up for me, and I just want to thank God for all of this.”
2022 Daily Reporter Fall Sports Honors
Boys Tennis Athlete of the Year: Adam Koon, Mt. Vernon
Boys Tennis Coach of the Year: Gabe Muterspaugh, Mt. Vernon
*All-Hancock County Team
No. 1 singles: Adam Koon, Mt. Vernon
No. 2 singles: Chris Long, Greenfield-Central
No. 3 singles: Matthew Hyre, Greenfield-Central
No. 1 doubles: Bryce Wennen and Myles Wennen, Eastern Hancock
No. 2 doubles: Matthew Jones and Max Orelup, Mt. Vernon
*Determined by 2022 Hancock County Tournament