Coupeville High School tennis coach Ken Stange will have no trouble filling out his lineup with experienced players.
The Wolves return 12 athletes with varsity experience, and with only eight spots to fill per match, Stange said the competition for playing time “should be fun” and the matches “competitive and enjoyable.”
“With so many players who want to play at the top, the boys won’t be able to let their guard down,” Stange said.
Six returnees played a significant role in 2012: Aaron Curtin, Ben Etzell, Jason Knoll, Brandon Kelley, Sebastian Davis and Brian Norris.
Others with varsity experience are Loren Nelson, Cameron Boyd-Eck, Kyle Bodamer, Jared Helmstadter, Jake McCormick and Connor McCormick.
Shane Squire, who is currently injured, also played last fall.
Newcomers will have a difficult time supplanting the veterans, Stange said, but those with the best chance are sophomores Dalton Martin, Beauman Davis and Lilan Sekigawa; and freshmen Joseph Wedekind, Grey Rische and Nick Dion.
In all, Stange has 27 players on his club this season.
The Wolves lost just two players to graduation, Nathan Lamb and Ben Wehrman, but the two were among the most talented.
Lamb, who won three district titles, will be tough to replace.
Stange said, “Nathan played No. 1 singles for what seems like an eternity. That said, Aaron Curtin is solid. Players like Ben Etzell and Sebastian Davis are playing well. Jason Knoll is also hitting well.”
Curtin, in particular, is developing his talent. “Aaron has found his power and has begun to harness it,” Stange said. “I expect big things.”
South Whidbey, a traditional power, will be the team to beat this fall, according to Stange. Archbishop Murphy is playing boys tennis for the first time this season and should add another tough opponent to the schedule.
“I’m excited by the group of guys on the court with me,” Stange said. “Joking is at a minimum, and the players are focused on improving. The courts are crowded but everyone’s working hard and improving daily. It should be a fantastic year.”
The Wolves travel to Friday Harbor Friday, Sept. 13, and South Whidbey Monday, Sept. 16, before opening at home with ATM at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18.