Tennis boys starting from scratch

"Brian Wilson returns the ball served up by a machine at practice while freshman tennis player Kenny Johnson waits his turn.Matt Johnson / staff photoThere's not much about the 2001 Falcon boys tennis season to remind the team of the previous year.Nine of the team's varsity players graduated last spring, leaving current senior George Spivikov as the only South Whidbey boy with extensive varsity experience.The junior varsity players who do move up to varsity won't even recognize the competition. After spending more than a decade as an official and unofficial member of the Wesco 3A conference, the Falcons found themselves with no one to play this year after all but two of the Wesco teams moved into a new 4A super league.The team's meet schedule has only 10 dates - eight fewer than last year - all against northern teams. Team coach Tom Kramer said he figures 2001 will be a good year to start all over again. This is not a re-building year. It's a re-start year, he said this week as pushed his 15 players through an unusually warm week of preseason practice.With four freshmen out for the team along with 10 sophomores and juniors, this is clearly a team that is building toward the next two seasons. Playing a shortened season against smaller schools than last year should give the younger players a chance to grow into their new varsity status. Even last year's experience-heavy had trouble with the big-school schedule, winning only three of 18 meets.Spivikov, who is the team's captain this season, said he will do everything he can to keep his younger teammates on their game. As one of just three Falcon players who made it to district playoffs this spring, he knows how to win games.I'll try to contribute my experience to them, he said.The Falcons' meet schedule could grow as the season opens. John Patton, the high school's athletic director, said he and Kramer are still trying to schedule matches with Wesco 3A and 4A teams. As during the previous two seasons, the team will play its district playoff matches in the spring of 2002. "

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