The good news is that coaches of North Side boys tennis teams generally feel they are improved. The bad news for three of the coaches is that none are as excited as Bill Wagstaff of defending tri-champion Mead.
Perennially at the top of the Greater Spokane League, the Panthers return most of their team.
“We are real deep this year,” said Wagstaff, “probably as deep as we have been in history.”
So when the GSL begins play on April 11, look for the Panthers, and perhaps Shadle Park, to be among the league’s challengers.
The Highlanders were fourth last season with a 5-3 record, and new coach John Gant expects no less.
“We’ll be at least that, if not a tad bit better,” the former North Park Racquet Club professional said.
North Central and Rogers also have new coaches. Indian mentor Mike Campbell returns after a sevenyear absence. Pirate basketball coach Rick Merganthaler is taking on something new.
Mead expects depth to win out
If Mead gets past favored Lewis and Clark for a league championship, the Panthers will do it with numbers.
“Some years we’ve had the star of the league,” said Wagstaff. “We don’t necessarily have that, but are real competitive at every position.”
Three of Mead’s top four singles players return, including senior John Wrigley and junior Eric Donovan.
They teamed up in doubles to qualify for state last year.
Moving up to No. 2 singles is last year’s No. 4 player, Mike Foiles.
Sophomore Brett Kaiser will play the other singles position.
Doubles players include juniors Chris Koshman, Paul Dedura and Kelly Haines and sophomore Roger Eng, who all lettered last year.
Newcomers include freshman Shane Andrews and sophomore Travis Foster, who played No. 1 singles on last year’s junior varsity.
“I would think it would be between LC and us,” said Wagstaff.
The Tigers return two district tournament singles semifinalists and had seven players reach either the singles or doubles quarters a year ago.
Shadle also fields veteran team
Nine of 10 Highlander players were either on the varsity or junior varsity teams a year ago. Included are three players who reached the quarterfinals of last year’s district doubles tournament.
“We don’t have the depth but have top players who can challenge anybody,” said Gant.
Shadle’s singles players are junior Dan Fennen, and senior Kris Maynard, junior Nic Minatre, both district veterans, plus senior Paul Zilm.
Minatre teamed with returnee Doug Tobey in doubles last year.
Other Highlander prospects are junior Andy LeBeau, sophomores Brandon Blair and Cody Smith, and freshman Ryan Herman.
“This is a new experience for me,” said Gant. “We’ll see what happens.”
North Central seeking improvement
With most of the Indian varsity back, Campbell is hoping for improvement over last year’s 1-7 season.
“This is a good group. I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “Having been away, I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking at.”
Last year’s No. 1 player, Paul Lattin, returns with fellow seniors Gary Lemoine, Michael Fong and Bill Doyle in the singles spots.
Other veterans are last year’s No. 1 doubles player, senior Matt Breithaupt, junior Aaron Jacobs and senior Josh Belzman.
Seeking varsity spots are senior Mike Groff, juniors Chris Greiner, Eric Gruber, Phil Harris and Brian Nichols, sophomore Mark Wilson and freshman Peter Lattin.
“All the seniors with the exception of two are four-year players,” said Campbell. “I think we will be an upper-division finisher possibility.”
Rogers and coach begin anew
Besides coaching basketball, Merganthaler previously had coached track and field.
In his new venture he inherits a Pirate team with only one experienced player.
“We’re just trying to build a foundation and create interest,” Mergenthaler said. “That’s where we are right now.”
He started with a turnout of four players and now has 10. Included is German exchange student Peter Wittkotter, who is good enough to be the Pirate No. 1 player.
Washington Interscholastic Activity Association rules, however, limit him to junior varsity competition.
Senior Joe Ybarra moves from No. 5 player to No. 1 singles this year. Other singles players will be juniors Chris Fluaitt, Matt Preunier and freshman Brian Murchaie.
Doubles players are sophomore Kyle Preston, freshman John Tanehill, senior Tom Drewery, freshman Nate Sauer and Kevin Graupman.
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