(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- With the start of a new spring season, the Sikeston boys' tennis team will soon be in full swing as they prepare to take the court once again for the 2008 campaign.
It should be another solid year for the Bulldogs, as they will return several key players from last year's district runner-up team.
"We do have some experience returning this year and that's always a good thing," said Sikeston head coach Brian James. "About six of our guys have played some matches at the varsity level so we should have a chance to be pretty decent."
Sikeston will be lead by a core group of seniors as Charlie Jones, Clay Matthews and Justin Deere each have two years of varsity experience while Seth Colwick and Adam Martin will also be vying for a spot in the top line-
Others in the mix are sophomore Stuart Strom, who saw significant time at the No. 6 spot last year as a freshmen and senior Daniel Agung, a transfer student from Australia.
However, due to unkindly weather, limited practice time hasn't allowed James to recognize the teams' full potential.
"Well, we don't know too much about them yet because we haven't been outside very much," said James. "This time of year is always pretty slow. We're just ready to get some normal weather so we can get out there and compete. But we're looking forward to it though."
After finishing runner-up to district newcomer Farmington last year in Class 1 District 1 by a point and a half, Sikeston should be in contention to compete for another district title.
But if they are to do so they will have to do it without two-time district winner Sammy Zhao, who competed in doubles with Matthews, and singles performer Logan Hampton who were lost to graduation. But James is optimistic.
"Farmington would have to be the favorite it districts because they won it last year and they have several of their top players back," said James. "But I would like to think we could compete for a district title if we improve and get competitive by the end of the year.
"It seems like the guys that are back at it again this year have improved and we're looking forward to the season."
The Bulldogs will get take the court March 27 for their first match of the season when they host the Dexter Bearcats at 4 p.m.