Preview: St. Luke's boys tennis
With no graduates a year ago, the rebuilding process was supposed to have given way to a semblance of familiarity within the lineup of the St. Luke's School boys tennis team for 2010.
Turns out, thanks to a combination of injuries, sport transfers and a player leaving for tennis school, St. Luke's finds itself back where it was a season ago -- in a transition process. It's not a welcomed scenario, but not every team can always avoid these scenarios.
"We're in for another rebuilding year," coach John Sargent said. "Because of the turnover it's our second rebuilding year in a row."
This squad lost five players from last year's roster before the start of this spring campaign, but the boys do return their No. 1 singles player in junior Roy Skinner. Skinner lost only twice last season -- to the No. 16 and No. 18 players in New England. Last year's No. 2 singles player, Max Macey, left the team for tennis school, leaving sophomore Luke Osherow as the likely candidate to take his spot, the coach said.
Zach Lupica is another key player who is gone from a year ago. Lupica chose to pass up this season because of a lingering injury he suffered during basketball season.
Sargent said all of his team members are singles players by nature and that he would have to sort out who fits best in the doubles lineup, and who gets paired with whom, as preseason unfolded this past week. And that there is another obstacle this team will have to overcome.
"That's a big adjustment for the kids, to learn to play doubles," Sargent said.
St. Luke's, despite enduring a losing season in 2009, held its own against Greens Farms Academy and Rye Country Day, two of the better teams around.
Just how competitive St. Luke's is this spring will depend on the emergence of the up-and-coming players. Sargent, though, doesn't want to set the bar too high and believe his team will be in contention against the better teams, including Hopkins and Brunswick, two of which the coach said should be among the best in the Fairchester Athletic Association.
"Losing our No. 2 just makes too big a hole in our lineup," the coach said. "It's going to be a battle going up against those tougher teams."
Of course, regardless of how the teams does, the St. Luke's players can at least gain experience and build for the future. Plus, they can have some fun as well as earn some wins along the way.
"For a lot of them it's just a question of getting some experience," Sargent said. "It's a nice group of kids. They're very enthusiastic."
Shurr said the team feels no pressure and, despite its overall youth, has a relaxed personality.
"It never gets way too serious," Shurr said of the atmosphere in preseason practices.
The senior, however, would like to see overall improvement this year.
"Last year we only had two or three wins. It'd be nice to improve upon that," he said.
Sargent said Masters, Hamden Hall, King, Rye and GFA are all teams he believes his squad can be in contention against.
"I'm pumped. I really like playing tennis and I really like being on this team," Shurr said. "Win or lose, I enjoy it."