Wet Weather Puts Damper On Tennis Season
An abnormally wet March rained on area tennis players, and Valley Greater Spokane League teams were no exception.
The record-setting moisture has hampered practice planning by coaches, as well as determining lineups.
“We haven’t had a chance to get outside,” said CV girls coach Stan Chalich. “I thought we would get rained out (of a match) the other day and had (practice) in the gym at 5:30 a.m. Sure enough we played, so it was a long, long day for them.”
Central Valley has probably been affected most by the weather because last year’s defending boys co-champion and fifth place girls team won’t have much experience this time around.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a certain level of optimism.
“These are the kind of guys who are driven to excel,” said Bear boys coach Patty Doudna.
Veteran University brings back most of its boys and nearly all the girls lineups from last year’s fifth and second-place squads.
“I’m happy with how the kids are working even though we’ve not been out a lot because of the wonderful spring,” said Titan boys coach Dan Obenchain.
First league matches are Tuesday, April 11.
CV lineups laced with newcomers
The Bear boys are pretty much starting over with only one player back from last year’s 7-1 team and the girls, who went 4-4, have only two seniors in the lineup.
Chris Trefry is the boys returnee who is competing against U-Hi transfer Grant Ely for No. 1 in singles.
Other prospects are letter winners Josh Johnson, Ben Abrams, a likely singles starter, and Jerry Martin.
“But they were our 11, 12 and 13 players last year,” said Doudna.
The remainder of the squad will be chosen from returnee Scott Cook, sophomore Chris Arger, another probable singles starter in Salt Lake City transfer Brad Heaton, junior Dave Johnson, doubles teammates Shane Sullivan and Brandon Priebe, Greg Schlatter or sophomore Eddie Stack.
“We want to have fun every day out there,” said Doudna. “They are really good at listening and great at practice. This year there are no personality conflicts.”
Chalich’s seniors, Jennifer Fried and Stacey Smith, will be the girls Nos. 1 and 2 singles players.
Also back is the No. 1 doubles team of Kelly Erikson and Marissa Sprank.
Other players are juniors Solanj Sing, Alicia Yue, Kori McElvain and Emma Gehrett, and sophomores Becky Deehr and Christina Russell.
“I think we’ll be competitive and can surprise a few people,” said Chalich. “It depends on how fast they progress.”
U-Hi fields experienced players
Even though losing Ely to CV, five of the Titan boys top 10 from last year’s 4-4 team have varsity experience. Eight of the girls’ 10 varsity players are back from last year’s 6-2 team.
“We lost only two players off varsity,” said girls coach Tom Loucks. “But it’s hard to say with the rain, what the sophomores will do. Normally I know by now.”
State eighth-place finisher Leslie Whitten, a junior, heads the girls team.
“Leslie’s very tough mentally and I think she’s improved,” said Loucks.
His other singles players are senior Kristy Kimbrough, junior Emily Stuenkel and Stephanie Sander.
Also returning for the team are doubles players Polly Andresen, Kim Kleven, Cory Hartman and Jamie Hills.
Vying for varsity spots are juniors Jennifer Repp, Nikki Shively and Cindy Numata, as well as the untested sophomores.
“We have a good team,” said Loucks. “It will be fun to see how we do.”
When seven seniors graduate this year, Obenchain must hit the recruiting trail. There are only 15 boys on the U-Hi team.
“It’s a long time between fall of the ninth grade year” when boys play their junior high season, said Obenchain, “and spring of their sophomore year.”
Fortunately, half his current singles lineup will return next season. The top four so far are senior Brian Bishop, juniors Ryan Spear and Mike Rinaldi and senior Scott Santens.
Rounding out the Titan top 10 are senior Alex Gibson, junior John Kaiser, senior Jacob Boomer, junior Nick Jarosch, seniors Dave Burkhart and James Stewart.
“We’re pretty solid 1 through 10,” said Obenchain. “Basically they’ve been beating up on each other in challenge matches.”