For a Douglas High boys tennis team that has enjoyed considerable success in recent years, this could be described as a reloading season.
Question is, how long will that process take? If you listen to coach Rod Smith, it might not take long at all.
“We’ve done pretty well over the last three or four years … we’ve averaged 7-3 records,” Smith said. “We’re kind of light on experience, we have three seniors and maybe four starters back, so we really have to improve considerably to achieve that this year. But don’t count them out at all, we’ve got a lot of strong-willed young men who really like to play.”
Joey Swisher and Keaton Peters, a pair of fourth-year senior veterans with the program, lead a young team that opens its season on Sept. 3. They will fill the team’s No. 1 doubles spot in the lineup.
“Joey and Keaton have come a long way since their freshman year,” Smith said. “I’m very pleased with their tennis development and their passion for the game.”
The No. 1 singles position is still up in the air, according to Smith.
“Jon Pelcher and Connor Lyons will be competing for the top spot of our singles ladder,” he said. “We expect other teams to take notice of their athleticism and strong tennis skills before the year is over.”
This is a program that has produced some talented individuals, including 2009 state singles champion James TenBroeck (who played this past spring for San Diego Mesa College). Smith was also quick to point out he has a staff of four assistant coaches that includes two Douglas graduates: Cody Tindel and Michael Sorich. Tindel capped his senior season for the Tigers in 2012 by advancing to the regional tournament singles quarterfinals.
What the young Tigers lack in experience right now, they compensate with enthusiasm.
“What’s really cool, all these kids just love to play and are eager to learn,” he said. “I think we’ll be a force in the next two years. This year we have that chance. It’s going to be one of those interesting things to see how much they grow. I’m really looking forward to seeing them out on the court the first match.
“Regardless of how we do, and I know it sounds like a cliché from the coach, but we want them to improve every day a little bit. That’s kind of the goal.”