The Chatfield boys tennis team finished eighth at the state tournament last year and long-time coach Carey Brading is optimistic that his squad can improve on that result this season.
Unlike last year, when all but three varsity players were lost to graduation, Brading has a large cast of talented returning players.
“Our singles line-up is very strong and our doubles teams are pretty solid,” said Brading, entering his 17th season as Chatfield coach. “We have 33 players, enough for three teams. The second team is coached by Brad Hatfield and plays a varsity schedule. We have very good balance from top to bottom. The level of skill is very high. The kids can all improve together by playing against each other in practices.”
Senior Parker Lewis is expected to man the top singles position after playing at No. 2 in 2007. Jensen Teague reached the state semifinals as a freshman last season and returns at singles. Another sophomore, Grant Peterson, will play either No. 1 doubles or No. 3 singles. Scott Holmes will fill either a singles spot or play No. 1 doubles.
Ross Donovan, Tanner Stutz and Mark Flora will play doubles for Brading. Freshman Nick Holmes (younger brother of Scott) and Keith DeHerrera ( brother of last year’s No. 1 singles player, Kevin) also figure to see regular varsity action.
“We have our top eleven, we just need to figure out through match play where they will play,” Brading said.
Brading sees depth as a definite strength of the Chargers and has lofty goals for the new season.
“I would really like to see us get the league (Jeffco 5A) title this season and improve on our finish at state,” Brading said. “We are strong all the way through our line-up. Arvada West won league last year. The kids (were) very excited for our match with them (Aug. 28).”
Chatfield won the match 6-1, only dropping the No. 4 doubles match.
Columbine sets bar high
Despite the loss of two varsity singles players, the cupboard is hardly bare at Columbine. Coming off a rebuilding year, expectations are high for the Rebels.
“Last year we had graduated some strong seniors and had several players at the varsity level for the first time,” said Lorens Knudsen, beginning his ninth season as coach at Columbine. “This season a couple of players decided not to come back for various reasons. Despite the loss, the experience for several players of having a year under their belts should lead to improvement this season.”
The Rebels compiled a 5-5 match record last season and a couple of players finished just a match away from competing at state. Seniors Jared Koontz and Andrew Mueller, along with Daniel Barela will handle the three singles positions.
“The number one and two singles spots will go a long way in determining the strength of our season,” Knudsen said. “If we can win matches there and our doubles teams continue to improve it should be a good year.”
Senior Jacob Krause and Kurt McCluskey will form the top doubles tandem, while Craig Martin and Stephen Kuhn are the likely No. 2 doubles pairing.
“Will Jones is a new player who should be instrumental to our success this season,” Knudsen said. “Greg Mees is another who should be in the mix. Positions are still being determined. The guys keep beating each other and we have a few working hard and fighting for doubles spots.”
Arvada West won the Jeffco League title last year, although Chatfield appears to be the early favorite this season to claim the top spot.
“My goals go beyond league,” Knudsen said. “I’d really like to get some guys to state. We have more seniors than in the past. My goal is to give them a lasting memory by qualifying for state.”
Dakota Ridge did not report information.