|BY CLAY CUNNINGHAM|
Times Staff Reporter
Despite key losses from last year's squad, the Northview boys' tennis team seems poised to make a legitimate run toward a fourth-consecutive sectional title.
The Knights began official practices last Monday. Head Coach Mark Orr said his players also attended a two-week camp earlier this summer and have been working out individually. Orr says he has noticed considerable improvement in his team's play in a very short time.
"The kids are really making great strides," Orr said. "Things are looking very good for us, and I think we will play very well when the season begins."
Orr, who is beginning his second season with the program, said he is counting on good senior leadership from Trent Sims, Caleb Andrews and Daniel Eaglin. Orr said he wanted his upper-classmen to take a vocal approach in practice to help fill the emotional void left by Austin Akers, Clint Reynolds and Matt Nodley, who were all lost to graduation.
The Knights will also benefit from a remarkably talented junior class. Orr said Carson Kleiber, Caleb Mershon and Joey Thomas all have a very realistic chance of capturing the No. 1 spot on the team's single's squad, giving the team great depth. Orr credited the improved play of his singles stars to a more aggressive playing style.
"I wanted (my players) to attack the net," Orr said. "In the past they've played defensive tennis, and I wanted to see them play more aggressively. I really think (the new playing style) is going to take their game to the next level."
An advantage Orr sees from last year is a major up-kick in player turnout. This season, the Knights' roster is filled with 20 players as opposed to five who came out at the beginning of last season. Orr said the he and assistant coach Shawn Hughes were attempting to evoke fear in opponents on a yearly basis.
"We want to build a program," Orr said. "We've had a lot of competition, and have seen a lot of kids come out who want to win, and that's key to our success, both this year and in the future."
Orr said much of the future success he's predicting can be seen in young talent, which includes seven freshman and several improving new players. Such returning players the coach mentioned by name included Cole Watts, Jordan King and Jake Short.
While Orr did make the standard declarations of hoping to see his team win a sectional and conference title, he upped the ante for his 2009 team. Orr said he wanted his team go undefeated into sectional play, which would hopefully create a mentality in his players that they can stand toe-to-toe with any opponent, regardless of how good they are.
"We have the talent to go undefeated," Orr said. "We've worked very hard to build this program into what it is, and (to go unbeaten) would show we are definitely on the right track."
The Knights kick off regular season play on Aug. 19, at Bloomfield.
Northview boys tennis
|Wed., Aug. 19||At Bloomfield||5 p.m.|
|Thu., Aug. 20||vs. N.Central||5 p.m.|
|Sat. Aug. 22||at Brown County||10 a.m.|
|Mon., Aug. 24||vs. WRV||5 p.m.|
|Tue., Aug. 25||at Danville||5 p.m.|
|Wed., Sept. 2||vs. Linton||5 p.m.|
|Tue., Sept. 8||at Greencastle||5 p.m.|
|Thu. Sept. 10||vs. Sullivan||5 p.m.|
|Sat., Sept. 12||at T.H. North Tourney||9 a.m.|
|Mon., Sept. 14||vs. Rockville||5 p.m.|
|Tue., Sept. 15||at Edgewood||5 p.m.|
|Thu. Sept. 17||at West Vigo||5 p.m.|
|Mon., Sept. 21||at S.Vermillion||5 p.m.|
|Wed., Sept. 23||vs. Owen Valley||5 p.m.|
|Thu. Sept. 24||vs. T.H. North||5 p.m.|
|Sat., Sept. 26||Northview Invite||9 a.m.|
|Wed., Sept. 30||Sectional||5 p.m.|
|Thu. Oct. 1||Sectional||5 p.m.|