The Logansport boys tennis team enters the season looking to continue its sectional dominance but to do so will have to replace some key spots.
The Berries have to replace top player Matt Jennings, who played No. 1 singles the last three seasons and went 17-5 last year for a Berries squad that went 8-10.
The Berries reclaimed the sectional title from Twin Lakes to win their 10th sectional in the last 11 seasons.
The Berries do return five of the seven players who played in last year’s tournament — seniors Weston Record (No. 1 doubles) and Chase Fisher (No. 2 doubles), juniors David Meadows (No. 2 doubles) and Derek Bergstedt (No. 2 singles) and sophomore C.J. Hallam (No. 3 singles).
“We have two seniors, Weston Record and Chase Fisher back, so right now they’re the top two on the ladder,” Logan coach Adam Thompson said.
A pair of freshmen will fill out the varsity lineup, said Thompson.
The fourth-year coach added the lineup has not been set entering the season.
“We also have two freshmen who will be on the varsity, Kian Harris and Mike Meadows. They are probably the best freshmen I’ve had, so they’re going to be in varsity spots. I’m not sure if singles or doubles yet, I’m still trying to figure it out with these younger guys, what’s going to be best for them,” he said.
“Our primary goal is still to win the sectional and then to try to finish in the top half of the conference, which is going to be tough with the losses we’ve had. It’s still doable if we can progress between now and then.”
The Logan coach likes the work ethic he’s seen from several of his players.
“We’ve had a few of these guys that played quite a bit during this winter and spring, more so than we’ve had in past years. So I’m hoping that continues to grow so we can more players playing during the offseason and improving during those times,” he said.
The Berries will need a top two finish in the North Central Conference West Division in order to compete for a conference title in the upcoming NCC Tournament.
Twin Lakes and Lewis Cass look to be top contenders in sectional play.
Logan opens the season at Cass next Wednesday.
The Kings played Logansport close in last year’s sectional final in dropping a 3-2 decision.
Like the Berries, the Kings will have a new look at the top of their lineup as they are losing No. 1 singles player Brad Berlet to graduation, as well as No. 2 doubles player Jared Ehase.
Junior Dixon Collins (No. 2 singles) and senior Drew Cornell (No. 3 singles), who recorded sectional wins against Logansport, will be moving to No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, respectively.
Senior Jovan Orozco and sophomore C.J. Burrous will be moving to the Nos. 2 and 3 singles spots.
Senior Josh Hanlon will team with Cornell at No. 1 doubles. Senior Noah Miller will have a new partner at No. 2 doubles in 6-foot-8 Kace Kitchel, who is out for the tennis team for the first time his senior year.
“He’s got the height and athleticism,” Cass coach Matt Hurst said of Kitchel. “He’s improving and doing a great job. I’ll keep working on him.”
Five of the Kings’ seven projected starters are seniors.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors which sounds great, but most of them are pretty new to the sport,” Hurst noted. “Kace has been out for just a couple weeks. Drew Cornell started just last year. Hanlon and Jovan started the year before. Our only fourth-year senior is Noah Miller who has played four years straight.”
The Kings are looking to improve on their 7-5 record of a year ago.
“As always we’re looking to have a good season and will be working hard to finish the season strong and do well at the sectional,” Hurst said. “We’ll try to win the sectional and the kids always work hard and have a good time.”
Cass hosts Logan on Wednesday to open the season.