The 2012 season looks to be another exciting campaign for boys’ tennis in the Battle Creek area.
While some teams such as Lakeview and Gull Lake will seek to reclaim longstanding area dominance, others such as Coldwater and Bronson hope that a mix of upperclassmen and youngsters will help their teams make positive strides this fall.
And still other schools are just happy to have the opportunity to hit the court once again.
Unable to field a team for several matches in 2011, the Battle Creek Central boys’ squad was dropped from the roster of school sports this past spring due to budgetary reasons. However, concerned parents and sports boosters came to the rescue raising enough money over the summer to resurrect the team.
Second-year coach BCC Richard Brenne hopes that his freshmen-heavy roster will carry the booster’s enthusiasm into the season and beyond.
While the future of Bearcat tennis may have been in flux this summer, Lakeview was merely counting down the days until its senior-laden team could once again swing the rackets.
The Spartans will be returning senior captain Hans Lee and the all-conference doubles pair of Stan Lassen and Mat Dennison to a team that hasn’t lost an All-City tournament in two decades.
Gull Lake also hopes to continue its winning ways in 2012. Bill Wisser’s Blue Devils finished ninth in the state last season and will aim for an even better finish this fall behind regional champion Demitri Mallos and All-SMAC performer Jake Walbridge.
Pennfield, Coldwater and Harper Creek will also be strong this season after finishing 2011 with winning records.
Galesburg-Augusta seeks to position itself as an area force in the near future as it fields a team stocked with sophomores and freshmen in 2012.
Here’s a closer look at the 2012 area boys’ tennis teams:
Battle Creek Central
Coach: Richard Brenne (second season)
2011 record: N/A
Top returners: Ethan Fletcher, jr. (No. 1 singles); Kaegen Crisher, jr. (No. 2 singles); James Munsch, jr. (No. 3 singles); Alec Belt, jr. and Robert Gildea, sr. (No. 1 doubles); Thomas Brown, so. (No. 2 doubles)
Top newcomers: Joey Gildea, fr. (No. 2 doubles); Bryce Simmons, fr. and Marlon Tribel, fr. (No. 3 doubles)
Outlook: “With several incoming freshman we are hoping to increase our numbers to a full varsity team this year,” Brenne said. “All players will improve their game throughout the season and be competitive in their respective positions. We are looking to continue building our Tennis program back to a competitive level in the conference.”
Coach: Judie Rawlings (seventh season)
2011 record: 10-6
Top returners: Daniel Baker, sr.; Tyler Eifler, sr.; Steven Eddie, sr.; Tyler Hagen, jr.
Top newcomers: Tanner Wilcox, fr.; Taylor Antes, fr.
Outlook: With the graduation of six talented seniors last season, the Beavers look to rebuild this year.
“Strength and leadership will come from our experienced, returning players again this season,” Rawlings said. “The addition of two new freshmen at No. 1 and No. 2 singles will help anchor and add depth to the team.”
Coach: Mike McGinnis (24th season)
2011 record: 10-3 (7-0 SMAC East), second at regionals, eighth at state
Top returners: Hans Lee, sr.; Stan Lasssen, sr.; Mat Denison, sr.; Blake DeBree, sr.; Jacob Derry, sr.; Andy MCotter, sr.; Ed Ryan, sr.; John Ryan, sr.; Cameron Babas, so.; Brij Banerji, so.; Tyler Horan, so.
Outlook: “We return a very experienced team that will determine its level of success this season,” McGinnis said. “We graduated Jim Beckwith (All-conference, All-State, Mr. Tennis Award finalist); It will take everyone on the team to step-up to fill his shoes.”
Coach: Matt Appleton (sixth season)
2011 record: 2-5-2 (1-2-1 KVA), second in regional, qualified for state
Top returners: Dryden Lachance, jr.; Evan Thomas, jr.; Spencer Hunt, jr.; Logan Mir, jr.; Alex Cornell, sr.; Jacob Yeager, sr.
Top newcomers: Sam Stover, fr.; Ben Stephens, jr.; Nate Cornell, jr.
Outlook: “We’re a young team with a lot of guys playing new flights,” Appleton said. “Our strong schedule should prepare us for postseason play.”
Coach: Steven Steward (second season)
2011 records: 2-8-1 (1-2-1 KVA), third in St. Joe Valley, tied for fourth at regional.
Top returners: Robert O’Rourke, sr.; Jonah Houtz, sr.; Kyler Scheenks, sr.; Patrick Brabon, sr.; Austin Pierson, sr.; Hobie Ramsey, jr.; Ryan Hagan, jr.; Damion Smith, jr.; Ryan O’Rourke, so.; Sawyer Maddox, so.; Philip Mandoka, so.
Top newcomers: Nathan Stemen, jr.; Tyler Withington, so.; Riley Hansman, so.; Justin O’Neill, so.; Gunnar Huthins, fr.; Wyatt Valance, fr.; Caeleb Albarran, fr.; Keagan Beatty, fr.
Outlook: “With many returning players we hope to improve on our 3rd place finish in the KVA and to make a strong run at Regional. The team is excited about our chances at being competitive this season at every position,” Steven Steward said. “There is strong senior leadership which should help us reach our goals.”
Coach: Johnny Sammons (first season)
2011 record: 10-5
Top returners: Nick Waterbury, sr.; Nate Withington, sr.; Jon Sammons, sr.; Alex Mason, sr.; Jake Fielding, sr.; and Derek Sammons, so.
Top newcomers: Nathan Waterbury, fr.
Outlook: “(The) 2011 (season) saw one of the stronger teams Coldwater has had over the years,” Sammons said. “(We just) missed qualifying for states as a team by two points. We’ve lost six seniors and although our work is cut out for us in 2012, the kids are up for the challenge. Six players on the roster are returning varsity athletes so their leadership will play a role toward the team’s success.”
Coach: Jamie Korinek (second season)
2011 record: 0-9
Top returners: Zach Wortinger, so. (No. 1 singles); Brett Barnett, so. (No. 2 singles); Calvin Foote, so. (No. 3 singles); Sam Henby, so. (No. 4 singles).
Top newcomers: Josh Saggio, fr. and Zach Reisterer, fr. (No. 1 doubles); Sinque Ezbenko, fr. (No. 2 doubles); Carter Way, fr. and Joey Leeson, fr. (No. 3 doubles).
Outlook: “We are currently in the process of rebuilding our schools rich tennis tradition, exemplified by the large number of talented underclassman,” said Korinek. “Our team is young and relatively inexperienced, but they hard working, and coachable kids with a great deal of potential.”
Coach: Bill Wisser (eighth season)
2011 record: 16-9, fourth in SMAC, regional champions, ninth at state
Top returners: Demitri Mallos, sr. (No. 2 doubles); Tom Sandell, jr. (No. 3 doubles); Jake Walbridge, sr. (No. 1 doubles); Dean Kolstad, sr. (No. 1 doubles)
Top newcomers: Louie Remynse, fr. (No. 1 singles); Noah Winne, fr. (No. 3 doubles); Andrew Vandermolen, fr. No. 3 doubles
Outlook: “We are in a little bit of a growing year as we had lost several seniors last year. We have a bunch of great kids and athletes again this year with several good young players and the returners will really solidify the team,” Wisser said. “The guys have been working hard in our preseason and we will improve throughout the season. I think we will be in the middle of the pack in our conference this year but the boys are always pushing for more and it wouldn’t surprise me if we did better.”
Coach: Kevin Brownell, 3rd year
2011 Record: N/A
Top returners: Adam Dimoff, sr.; Garrett Sander, so.; Travien Howard, so.; Dustin DeWitt, so.; Eli Arnold, so.; Jake Penland, jr.
Top newcomers: N/A
Outlook: Kevin Brownell returns the majority of his team from last season.
The Redhawks will take the court with four sophomores, all of whom saw varsity action in 2011 and hope that team chemistry and experience will translate to wins in 2012 and beyond.