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Boys tennis season opens with varsity spots up for grabs | FALCON FALL SPORTS PREVIEW
Replacing nine players, many of them four-year lettermen, is the tough task ahead of South Whidbey’s boys tennis program.
There are plenty of suitors to take those spots this season, head coach Karyle Kramer’s third at the helm. With four-year players like Austin Drake and Jack Hood, the team set its sights on making a run in the tri-district tournament and earning a spot in the state tournament this season.
Along the way, the Falcons’ lineup will shuffle regularly, a hallmark of Kramer’s system. Rotating players from singles to doubles and changing partners is key to her program, one that wants to discover which players jell, or don’t, and encourages them to learn to play tennis as a lifelong sport.
“We’re going to mix it up and see who works well together,” said senior Jack Hood, who usually plays singles.
Last season, the Falcons qualified six players for the tri-district tournament, but none made it past the third round. Hood was one of the Falcons to play in the regional round as a singles player and was eliminated in the second round. Two other returning players competed in that tournament, juniors Charley Stelling and Jonathon Peterson, as doubles partners on different teams. This season could be the year that the Falcon boys tennis program returns to the state tournament after a long run under the previous head coach and Kramer’s father, Tom Kramer.
Hood noted that Stelling and junior Nathan Riley are the team’s top players, though Hood figures to be in the mix for the team’s top singles spot.
As a 1A team, the Falcons play with eight on varsity, three doubles teams and two singles players, two fewer than in the 2A classification. That leaves a limited number of varsity positions for a program that had more than 20 players try out, though Kramer would likely travel with more than the minimum to give more players varsity experience in exhibition matches.
Hood and Drake said they looked forward to matches against Friday Harbor and Anacortes, the former for the trip and the latter for the challenge. South Whidbey is one of three teams in the Cascade Conference that fields a boys tennis team; the others are Coupeville and Archbishop Murphy. The true test for the Falcons will be opponents from the larger District 1 and tri-district area which includes Whatcom County schools like Bellingham and private schools Seattle Academy and Overlake.
Players from private schools defeated South Whidbey last season in the state-qualifying round, including Charles Wright Academy, Overlake, Cascade Christian and University Prep.
Many of the Falcons enrolled in at least one summer programs and those that did not played tennis frequently, Hood said.