Strong numbers for 2017 tennis Knights
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
There will be plenty of depth on hand for Northview boys’ tennis coach Shawn Hughes this season. However, after the graduation of five seniors from a 15-4 team, Hughes has some work to do to find the right combination of players to replace the experience from a conference runner-up team.
The Knights have 17 players on the 2017 roster, including a whopping eight freshmen. The Knights do have some returning experience, including seniors Clayton Buck, Jalen Satterfield and Chase McCrocklin.
“Last year we had a really solid team, but low numbers to feed into this year’s team. We lost five seniors (from last year),” Hughes said. “This year we have three seniors, but we have 14 more players to choose from to fill the spots left by those seniors. It is just awesome to see those numbers to build up the program. Hopefully it keeps going this way for years to come.”
Buck will initially slide into the number one singles position after playing at the number two spot last season. McCrocklin played at number three singles last year and will be in the running to move up a spot along with freshman Owen Tipton. Satterfield should also compete for a singles spot after playing number two doubles in the postseason.
“Right now we have Clayton Buck as a clear number one (singles) with Jalen (Satterfield) and Owen (Tipton) right on his heels as a number one player,” Hughes said. “We are still in our challenge matches for our number two doubles. It is either going to be two of our seniors, but there is also a chance it could be two of our freshmen. We are going to be starting out with four freshmen on the team playing varsity. Any time you have that you don’t quite know what to expect.”
Hughes is looking for the senior class to provide some guidance to the large freshman class.
“We are expecting a lot from our seniors. After dropping five seniors from a decent team last year, I’m expecting them to not only come in and play well, but to have the right mentality. Tennis is as much mental as it is physical,” Hughes observed. “I expect them to lead during practices and to show the younger kids how to play the right way and to be mentally strong.”
The Knights also return some experience in juniors Caleb Escott, Layton Abbott, Mark Russ and sophomore Justice Dowers.
“This year will be a little strange because we have some players that are really good in both singles and doubles play,” Hughes noted. “We have a couple that are going to just be strictly singles or just doubles players because of the style of their play. I think we have a versatile team.”