The 2011 boys tennis season ended with a race occurrence, as Regis Jesuit failed to make the top eight at the Class 5A state tournament.
It will be a strange season for the Raiders, who won’t be hosting a regional tournament, which is the benefit — typically — of a top eight finish.
Coach Laura Jones’ outfit should again be the class of Aurora tennis, though she has only two returning players in sophomore Enzo Abbott and junior Nate Root, who will play No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, respectively. Especially with a young group, Jones won’t miss the duties of hosting a regional.
“It’s kindof nice; in a way it’s much more relaxing to just go and play in regionals instead of being in charge of everything,” said Jones, who led the Raiders to the 5A state championship in 2010. “We’re going to just relax, enjoy it and see what happens.”
Regis Jesuit won’t know which of the eight regionals it will play in until it finishes the Continental League schedule, but Jones expects her new look group to again be near the top of the conference.
Abbott played No. 2 doubles last season with graduated Andrew Caffey, prevailing in a playback to make the state tournament, where they lost in the first round to eventual state champions Will Ro and Jonathan Coffman of Cherry Creek. In part because of necessity, as well as development, Abbott rocketed all the way to the top singles spot for Regis Jesuit in 2012.
“To play No. 1 singles, you have to be focused and Enzo is driven,” Jones said. “He’s worked really hard and he’s a better player and a more mature young man than he was a year ago.”
Freshman Chanon Penauri made a run at the top singles spot, but has settled in at No. 2, while sophomore Trace Collins mans the No. 3 position.
Doubles has long been a strength for Regis Jesuit, but Root is the only returning player — besides Abbott — from a group that had all four teams play at state. Root and partner Case Anderson were the Raiders’ only placers last season, taking third at No. 3 doubles, but Root will slide up to the top doubles spot with junior Timmy D’Costa this season.
Due to the inexperience, Jones expects a lot of closer dual matches this season with league teams such as Legend and Mountain Vista.
Smoky Hill had two singles players and two doubles teams qualify for last season’s state tournament, with foreign exchange student Jonathan Lindberg picking up the school’s first state victory and team point since 2000.
Lindberg graduated and the No. 1 doubles team of Dave & Mike Rosencrans also departed, leaving coach Colin Lesyinski with senior No. 2 singles player Chris Whipple as his only state returner.
Whipple has made it to the Gates Tennis Center courts twice and Lesyinski expects him to return as a senior, possibly with the company of senior No. 1 Austin Kohlman. The two have played in the same spots for their entire high school careers and know the rigors of their respective positions.
“Austin has yet to go to state, but I fully expect him to go this year,” Lesyinski said. “We have very lofty hopes for Chris at state as well. He could be a No. 1 at a lot of schools. Experience should help them both.”
Senior Bobby Nelson fortifies the doubles ranks for the Buffaloes.
The rest of Aurora teams were blanked as far as state qualifiers last season, but new faces could change that in 2012:
• At Cherokee Trail, senior Corey Zumar’s experience and improved service game make him better equipped for the No. 1 singles spot, where new coach Liz Siegel believes he could make some noise with a better feel for the mental demands of playing the toughest position. Senior Omer Sarwana and junior Cody Luhman give the Cougars a solid singles group.
• Six players are back in the fold from a year ago for Grandview coach Jeff Ryan, who fills the top of his lineup with junior Connor Tibbetts at No. 1 singles and senior Andrew Tran in the second slot.
• Singles standout George Cross departed for Montana, but veteran Overland coach Arlandus Lowe has four-year singles player Adam Rauff back and an intriguing freshman talent in Paul Kim. Lowe was continuing to look for numbers to bolster the lineup prior to the opening of the season.
• Junior Kameron Fink’s improvement at No. 1 singles is representative of the overall development for coach Alex Moore, who was pleased with the Raptors’ summer dedication.
• Simon Moorwood didn’t have enough players at new Vista PEAK for a full team, so he brings the players he does have over to join the Rangeview squad. Experienced senior Matthew Feria mans the No. 1 singles position capably, while junior Nicholas La and sophomore Josh Urban have new roles as varsity singles players.
• Key dates and information on 2012 boys tennis season.
2012 AURORA BOYS TENNIS PLAYERS TO WATCH
Enzo Abbott, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Trace Collins, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Matthew Feria, Rangeview, sr.; Kameron Fink, Eaglecrest, jr.; Jordan Greenhut, Grandview, jr.; Paul Kim, Overland, fr.; Austin Kohlman, Smoky Hill, sr.; Nicholas La, jr., Rangeview; Cody Luhman, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Bobby Nelson, Smoky Hill, sr.; Chanon Penuari, Regis Jesuit, fr.; Adam Rauff, Overland, sr.; Nate Root, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Omer Sarwana, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Vik Sherverda, Cherokee Trail, soph.; Connor Tibbetts, Grandview, jr.; Andrew Tran, Grandview, sr.; Josh Urban, Rangeview, soph.; Chris Whipple, Smoky Hill, sr.; Corey Zumar, Cherokee Trail, sr.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555