Marc Leible, who took seventh in the state last year in the state, is the only player that graduated from the Bulldogs' 8-8 team as Sikeston returns seven of the top eight players.
"We've got several returnees from last year that I look to step up for us," said Sikeston coach Brian James. "I've got eight kids that have played varsity at some points in their careers. The competition for the top six varsity spots is pretty tight. There's not a lot of difference between the top 10 or so players. We don't have a 'dominant' No. 1 player -- and I think you'll see probably two or three different No. 1's throughout the course of the year -- I do have several solid players that should make for a pretty decent squad."
Senior Chris Matthews returns after spending most of last season as the No. 2 singles player. Also returning is junior Logan Hampton and senior Grant Ingram, who both played as the three and four singles players.
Seniors Craig Millington and Andrew Powell and sophomores Charlie Jones and Clayton Matthews have all improved and are battling for varsity spots according to James.
Junior Sam Zhao, who played as the No. 4 singles player two years ago as a freshman, is back out for the team this year.
Also out for the team are senior Tyler Wallace, and sophomores Seth Colwick, Justin Deere, Adam Martin and Blaze Schrieber.
"I was pleasantly surprised to see how much a lot of these guys have improved since last year," said James. "All of those sophomores that were out last year have really gotten better and I look for some good things out of them this year and in the future."
But even though the tennis team appears to have plenty of experience returning, James hasn't had much of a chance to evaluate his talent thus far. He also doubles as the assistant coach for Sikeston's basketball team, which just wrapped up its season with a state championship game appearance.
"I got a bit of a late start due to our basketball success," said James. "(Girls tennis coach) Lynne DeWitt was nice enough to help me out until we got back from the state basketball tournament. I've only been with them for one week, so it makes it that much harder to get the lineups set for the first match on Thursday."
Sikeston's boys tennis team has had success in recent years, winning district championships in 2001, 2002 and 2004 with second place finishes in 2003 and 2005.
The Bulldogs have also had players receive all-state recognition with the doubles team of Peter Jones and Chris Robey taking fourth in 2004 and Leible's finish last year.
While this year's team a returning standout, James thinks the team overall may be improved.
"I think this team has the potential to be pretty good," he said. "Again, I think our overall depth from top to bottom will be our biggest attribute. Our goals are the same every year. We try to be good enough to compete for a team district championship and send as many individuals to the state tournament as possible."
Sikeston will open its season tomorrow at Kennett at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will have their first home match on Thursday, March 30 when they host Dexter at 4 p.m.