Boys’ tennis preview

Andover

Blaine’s Tyler Pratt is one of seven seniors on the roster this spring.   Photo by Bill Jones

Blaine’s Tyler Pratt is one of seven seniors on the roster this spring.
Photo by Bill Jones

2012 finish: unknown.

Coach: Mike Johnson, second season

Key returners: Captains Grant Johnson, Erik Jones and Nate Thelen. Johnson and Jones return to the courts as five-year senior letter winners and have made some noise in both singles and doubles section tourneys in the past.

Outlook: Andover returns several players to key positions across the line-up and will hope to compete with the top programs in the Northwest Suburban Conference and section titles, of which defending conference, section and state champion is Elk River.

Anoka

2012 finish: The Tornadoes lost in the second round of team sections and didn’t have any individuals finish among the top section places.

Coach: Eric Bertram, first year at Anoka. Also coaches Andover girls’ tennis.

Key returners: Brendin Randall and Mark Schatza will be the captains in addition to Matt Schatza, who will serve the team as an assistant coach for the second season this spring.

Outlook: Anoka has a very young team with only one senior and seven high schoolers on the roster, while nine eighth-graders make up the bulk of the squad. Bertram admitted that if there was a state trophy for being a fun group, Anoka would win it hands down. “We have a great assortment of personalities and many of the kids love to break dance,” he said.

Blaine

2012 finish: 11-5 overall, team lost in section semifinals.

Coach: Jody Cullen, 15th season at Blaine coach.

Key returners: Senior Conner Ingalls returns as the lone all-conference honoree. Ingalls played doubles all last season.

Outlook: The Bengals return the bulk of their varsity line up with many of them playing a significant amount of off-season tennis. Look for that experience to provide another deep group with very little difference between the No. 1 singles and fourth-doubles spots.

Coon Rapids

2012 finish: 6-8 record

Coach: Scott Storrick, 15th season.

Key returners: Seniors Dan Jaeck and Steve Muggenberg; juniors: Kendall Setts, Hoc Vu and Jacob Summerville; sophomore Bobby Yang and ninth-grader Steven Yang.

Outlook: After what Storrick considered a down year last spring, he hopes the top players will emerge from another year of experience to be better prepared this spring.

Spring Lake Park

2012 finish: 5-5 North Suburban Conference, 6-14 overall and lost to Coon Rapids in the Section 5AA opener.

Coach: Mark Fierst

Key returners: No. 1 singles player David Tran returns along with senior captains Corey Buresh and Chris Capistrant.

Outlook: With a very young team and very little varsity court time, 2013 appears to be a rebuilding year for the Panthers. “The guys are eager to improve and learn what it takes to be successful,” Fierst said. “We have already developed a strong sense of community on the team. Our success will come from players who are eager to learn and get better.”

St. Francis

2012 finish: 1-10 in North Suburban Conference, 3-13 overall; lost in the first round of the Section 7AA tournament.

Coach: Scott Schmidt

Key returners: The Saints return two varsity players, including junior Blake McCredy, who will hold down the top singles spot for the third season.

Newcomers: A group of sophomores who also play for the hockey team and provide an athletic edge and competitiveness for the Saints. The group will play its first varsity match this spring.

Outlook: Look for the combination of an experienced third-year No. 1 singles player to anchor what will be a young group this spring.

Jason Olson is at jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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