Local racketeers swing into the prep tennis season
Chugiak High’s tennis program is full of talented newcomers, said fourth-year head coach Sally Jo Cook.
“If we had a tournament for first and second year players, I think we’d bring home that trophy,” she said.
If some of those players compete through their senior year, Cook said, Chugiak’s future will be looking bright.
It’s not just athleticism the new players bring to the team. They all have great attitudes, Cook said.
“They have a good drive to want to improve,” she said. “It’s fun to see them go from zero to 50.”
The Mustangs have 40 kids in the program, but Cook said that number always grows once school starts. Like last year, Chugiak has had an influx of freshmen interested in tennis, Cook said.
“We do have quite a few freshmen again,” she said.
But Chugiak has plenty of experience, too.
“We’ve got a good core of returners, especially on the boys’ side,” Cook said.
West handed Chugiak an 8-1 loss in the Mustangs first match of the season Tuesday, Aug. 21. Skyler Fullmer and James Marchlinski got Chugiak’s lone win in the boys No. 1 doubles match.
The Mustangs played South on Wednesday, Aug. 22, but scores were not available before the Star went to press. That match was originally scheduled for Aug. 16 but was postponed due to rain.
Bartlett forfeited the first match of the year against Chugiak set for Aug. 14.
Chugiak travels to Dimond today (Thursday, Aug. 23) at 3 p.m., then hosts East on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. before hosting Service on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 3 p.m.
Cook knows some members on her team will face opponents who play tennis year-round. But, Cook said, she wants the Mustangs to play every single point.
“Our big mantra for the year is not giving it to them,” Cook said. “If they’re gonna beat you, you make them give it to you until the last shot.
“The last shot is the toughest one to hit,” Cook said. “If they’re gonna beat us, I want them to really beat us.
“I hope that mentality will give them permission to hit out. Go down swinging.”
Wolves full of ‘positive attitudes’
Eagle River had 24 on its roster during the first mEagle River had 24 on its roster during the first match against Service on Aug. 14.
“That’s more than we’ve had in past years,” said head coach Matt Crockett. “We have a good turnout this year.”
Crockett, who was an assistant coach last season and has served as head coach in the past, said Eagle River typically has about 17 kids each year.
Service won the season-opener 8-1, with Wesley Bennice earning the Wolves’ lone victory in the boys’ No. 2 singles match.
Dimond defeated Eagle River 8-1 on Aug. 16. Bennice again got the only Wolves’ win in the boys No. 2 singles match.
East beat Eagle River 6-3 on Tuesday, Aug. 21. Dagan Mullins (boys No. 2 singles), Claire Bottini (girls No. 1 singles) and Karolena Williams (girls No. 2 singles) earned victories for the Wolves.
Eagle River plays South today (Thursday, Aug. 23) at Chugiak’s courts at 3 p.m. The Wolves play at West on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. and host Bartlett on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Chugiak at 3 p.m.
The Wolves are made up of a coachable group who are ready to play, Crockett said.
“All come to practice really focused,” he said.
Only about a fourth of the team are returning players, Crockett said. The Wolves look up to senior Jacob Klaameyer, he said.
“He’s leading the team,” Crockett said.
Crockett said he’s focused on ensuring his team plays consistent tennis. But the game is different for doubles and singles players, he said.
“In doubles, you want to develop individual teams within the team,” Crockett said.
Early in the season, Crockett said he’s been stressing condition at practice to prevent injuries.
“We’re focused on building skills,” he said.