Avon, Plainfield, Brownsburg, and Danville all return to the tennis court with high aspirations for the 2012 season. The Bulldogs return as sectional champion and look to defend that title this season, but the Orioles, Quakers, and Warriors are working hard to take that spot.
Plainfield enters into the 2012 season with a new coach as Tony Epkey takes over for Keith Parker. The Quakers return seven letter winners from last season, helping ease the transition, but that makes up half of the entire team.
“This team is a bit smaller than in years past,” Epkey said. “That’s a plus to me because it allows for more attention to the players outside of the varsity lineup.”
Plainfield finished with a 9-7 overall record and went 5-1 in conference play, taking second at the Mid-State tournament.
Returning from that tournament team are Brock Naaman, Jack Cavanaugh, Blake Bush, and Evan Rink.
“Leadership on this team is shared as of now, among those four guys,” Epkey said. “Blake is a senior who sets the tone for work ethic. Jack is a pure athlete with raw talent, he’s got a big heart and looks out for other guys on the team. Brock is the most steady player mentally at this point. Evan is another guy with talent and potential and is one of those guys that can change the mood of a whole room.”
Epkey said the team has high expectations with regards to county, conference, and sectional aspirations and that the “main team goal for this season is to regain the title to all three of these events.”
Along with the players mentioned above, Epkey pointed to Jacob Hopper, Michael Bohney, and Zach Eggleton as players that could have some unexpected successes.
“It might sound like a typical answer, but I believe any of our guys could have a breakout season,” Epkey said. “Several of them had a much stronger offseason work ethic than years past.”
Avon graduated three varsity tennis players with a combined 12 years of experience last season, making this uncertain territory for coach Stan Malless and the Orioles.
“On the surface, this would appear to be a bit of a building year for Avon boys’ tennis,” Malless said. “But there is so much returning and new talent this year that the Orioles expect to be just as good, if not even better, than last year.”
Avon returns seven letter winners from a squad that went 9-6 and finished in the top five of the Hoosier Crossroads Conference in regular season play and in the HCC tournament.
Senior Tyler Lingle comes back from a season at the No. 1 singles spot. Lingle played to a 6-10 record against some stiff competition last year.
Three of the four doubles players return for the Orioles in seniors Aaron Bode, Jordan Rhodes, and Jeff Gerstenberger.
Malless said senior Tim Elliott and junior Tyler Habig are in the mix for varsity positions, along with a host of junior varsity players that finished their 2011 season with an 11-3 record.
“All candidates have worked very hard in the offseason,” he said.
A top-four finish in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference, along with a county and sectional championship are what the Orioles are shooting for this year.
“The combinations of strong returning experience, leadership, and work ethic should translate into another successful boys’ season,” Malless said.
Graduating only players from its doubles teams last season, the Brownsburg boys’ tennis team is prepared for another successful season.
The Bulldogs won sectionals, went 14-6 overall, and finished fourth in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference with a 6-3 record.
Brownsburg coach Karen Starkey thinks this squad can have that same success this season, and maybe more.
“We can replicate that success once we get players comfortable and acclimated to new positions,” Starkey said. “We will have several experiencing varsity level play for the first time, so their development is key in this process.”
Returning from the 2011 team are Sam Gentry (No. 1 singles), Nathan Mehringer (No. 2 singles), Nick Wilde (No. 3 singles), and the lone senior, Michael Hartnagel.
Starkey is unsure yet what the lineup will be, saying it is “still a work in progress.”
A number of players who spent time on junior varsity will make the jump to varsity, giving the Bulldogs some extra bodies.
“We have several players from last year’s JV squad who will fill out our lineup nicely,” Starkey said. “We are blessed to have that depth.”
As the season progresses, Starkey said he hopes that Brownsburg is playing its best for the big matches.
“As we develop over the course of the season, we intend to be in position to be as competitive as ever as we head into conference and postseason play,” he said.
After a tough 2011 season, the Danville boys’ tennis team looks to improve for 2012.
Coach Rick Foster expects last year’s experience to help his squad for the upcoming season.
“One of things we are looking most for is a lot of growth. We had a lot of new faces last year and all but three of the team members were new to tennis,” Foster said. “Our returning players basically had a quick introduction to what varsity tennis was like.”
Key returners from last season are senior Colton Starcher and junior Nick Newman. Starcher will resume his spot as the Warriors’ No. 1 singles player and Newman will be the No. 2 singles player. After those two, Foster believes the spots will be wide open.
“From there on down we are going to be doing some mixing and matching as the season progresses,” he said.
Other players returning from last season include senior Nick Nelson and Daniel Dieckmann.
With a majority of players returning from 2011, Foster is looking forward to what the season holds.
“We are very happy with the kids that have come out,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of progression, it’s just going to take us some more time to get everybody oriented to how to be competitive in the game of tennis.”