If roster size is any indication, the Sacred Heart boys tennis team might have a big season.
The Gremlins have 15 players on their roster and a new head coach.
Susie Thompson, who will be assisted by Denny Cline, has all the credentials to coach a tennis team. She played tennis for the University of Notre Dame, where she was a two-time team MVP and captain.
“I’ve had fun using my playing experience to help with court positioning and strategies,” Thompson said. “They are such a bright group of student-athletes that they are picking everything up so quickly. I am excited for their potential this season.”
The Gremlins bring back five of their six varsity starters from last season, when they went 5-5 in the regular season. Sean Ki graduated.
Junior Ky Oh is penciled in as the No. 1 player, followed by senior Jay Kim, junior Chris Stratton, senior Erin Keethler, junior Grace Callis and senior Jesse Carroll. Carroll played last season on the JV team.
“I believe that the skill level of every member of the team has gone to the next level this year,” Stratton said, “and that we’ll stand a very good chance against any team we play.”
Other returning players are senior Aaron Church, senior Megan Oertmeyer, junior Brannon Oesterle and junior Sho Saito. The newcomers are junior Joe Lee, freshman Chandon Reese, freshman Aaron Romero, sophomore Shyan Shaffiey and junior Jimmi Villalobos.
The doubles teams are Oh-Kim, Stratton-Carroll and Keethler-Callis.
Thompson pointed out that the lineup could change between now and the home opener April 1.
The coach said the Gremlins’ biggest strengths are competitiveness and a positive attitude.
“I have thrown everything at this team in preparation for our upcoming season, and they have all risen to the challenge,” Thompson said. “I have high expectations, and I have no doubt this team will work extremely hard to meet and exceed those expectations.”
Thompson is not only thinking about this season but about the program as a whole.
“Our greatest area of opportunity revolves around consistent exposure to competitive match play and consistent use of strategy,” Thompson said. “Our team has practiced hard from our first practice up until now, but they need to continue match play and practice even beyond our season.
“If we, as a team, have the dedication to do this, we will continue to progress at a rapid rate.”
The Gremlins opened their season with a 5-4 loss to O’Hara on March 15 in Kansas City. They will meet Clinton in their home opener at 4 p.m. April 1 at Liberty Park.
HOME OPENER: Sacred Heart vs. Clinton
4 p.m. April 1 at Liberty Park courts