There is very little that will change heading into the 2013 tennis season. Geneva, with a heavily experienced team, will remain the team to beat. Jefferson and Lakeside will be nipping at the Eagles’ tail feathers. Conneaut and Edgewood and St. John are brimming with promising youth and Madison and Perry will look to make a splash in Lake County.
Only one new coach will take to the sidelines with Leslie Douglass assuming the top position at Edgewood.
Lakeside coach Bob Walters is a just a year away from his 50th anniversary as a coach, Jefferson’s Lou Murphy has put more than 30 years and Madison’s Mark Vidmar is nearing his 25th year.
The one negative thing to consider is that Riverside will not have a team for the first time in years.
Here’s an outlook for each of the teams in the Star Beacon’s coverage area:
The Spartans’ strength will lie in their youth. Coach Dave Simpson will welcome six freshmen to a team that boasts just four juniors and seniors. Only one of those four, junior Scott Gerdes brings varsity experience with him. The others, seniors T.J. Edwards and Jordan Hinson and junior Kyle Higginbotham, will be learning on the fly.
Other than Gerdes, only sophomores Jacob Edwards and Brandon Jasharek earned letters last season.
“With only three letterwinners returning, gaining experience will be key,” Simpson said. “We need to get outside and the weather is not cooperating. Scott Gerdes was 10-6 at third singles last year and Jacob Edwards and Brandon Jasharek played mostly second doubles. Their progression will be important. We picked up a big left-hander in first-time player T.J. Edwards, a good athlete. He will be important in doubles.
“We have added a first-year junior and six freshmen. The freshmen all played in the eighth grade at the middle school. We are very excited as they are a talented group and will have to step up right away. The players and I are very excited to get the season underway and to get outside.”
Freshmen Rashad Al-Arabi, Adam Bisset, Alex Gerdes, Gage Janek, Sean O’Meara and Tyee Stewart will get on-the-job training this season.
The Spartans lack a conference, so they will not compete for a league title. However, that doesn’t exactly mean they don’t have something to play for.
“Since we are not in a conference, we have to look forward to playing traditional rivals and local county teams like Edgewood, Jefferson, St. John and Grand River Academy,” Simpson said. “Other teams we look forward to, to test our talents against and also prepare us for the OHSAA tournament include Lakeside, NDCL, Perry, Gilmour Academy and Poland among others.
“We have a full schedule against teams that will test us, give us experience and prepare us for going into the state tournament.”