A new standard has been set for the Cherokee Trail boys tennis program.
The Cougars grew up in a hurry last season and blew away expectations when three doubles teams and a singles player qualified for the Class 5A state tournament, the first time anybody in program history had advanced to play at the Gates Tennis Center.
For the 2014 season, coach Liz Siegel gets back five players who made the trip to state, including sophomore No. 1 singles player Dylan Zumar, who put Cherokee Trail on the state scoreboard for the first time with a first-round victory. Senior Vik Sheverda and juniors Cameron Bergan, David Lai and Colin Richardson all played on doubles teams that made the state tournament, but will compete to fill the other two singles spots behind Zumar and determine who will return to the doubles ranks.
Junior Rahul Verma’s development could further bolster a Cherokee Trail lineup full of players who put in more time than ever in the offseason.
Regis Jesuit coach Laura Jones seems to always have too many talented players to fit into the allowed number of positions in the lineup and that is again the case in 2014.
Only four players from the team that finished fourth in last season’s 5A standings graduated, leaving a lot of battles to determine who will begin the season on varsity for Aurora’s traditional boys tennis power.
Back in the fold this season are senior Truett Davis and junior Steven Bummer — who lost in the No. 3 singles state championship match last season — plus the third-place No. 4 doubles team of senior Alec Jotte and sophomore Luca Abbott, as well as the fourth-place No. 2 doubles team of senior Joey Robertson and junior Tommy Koszowski.
Some of the teams may stay intact this season, but some may also get shuffled with other competitive players looking to get in the mix such as Koszowski’s twin brother, Max, plus freshmen Will Dennen and Patrick Seby.
Senior Trace Collins, junior Chanon Penvari and sophomore Erich Nuss all return with singles experience for the Raiders.
One option Jones won’t have at her disposal is senior Enzo Abbott, who played No. 1 singles in 2012 and missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, but he chose not to rejoin the team this season as he continues to rehab.
“Basically we have the same goals: we want to win our conference again and finish in the top four of state,” Jones said. “We have a lot of work to do, but those are good goals for us.”
Overland saw Draden Hoover arrive as a freshman last season and excel at the difficult No. 1 singles position, as he earned the program’s first berth in the state tournament since 2006. Though he didn’t win a match at state, Hoover gained valuable court time on the big stage that could come into play this season.
Grandview coach Jeff Ryan saw more players than usual come to tryouts, but he’s still short on experience.
Seniors Jason Cyrus, Steven Palmer and Sean Zubieta, along with junior Ben Warren, make up the Wolves’ returning players have been with the program for three years. Ryan is hoping that experience pays off as they will have to move into more prominent roles.
Eaglecrest coach Alex Moore lost all three of his singles players from last season to graduation, so the combination of sophomores Cooper Tedstrom and Andy Hansman and junior Christian Sunblade slides up to fill those slots in a yet-to-be-determined order.
Freshmen twin brothers Jozef and Jacobie Dankenbring showed promise in tryouts and Moore expects them to play together and occupy one of the top two doubles slots this season.
Rangeview has a new coach in Zeb Carabello, last season’s assistant who is filling in for Steve Joiner this season, with a group to work with that includes senior Josh Urban, juniors Tremayne Joiner and Danny Eguiluz and sophomore Matthew Chedid.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2014 AURORA BOYS TENNIS KEY DATES, INFORMATION
Key dates: Aug. 11 — Practice begins; Aug. 14 — Regular season begins; Sept. 25 — Class 5A boys league play completed; Sept. 26 — 5A boys regionals determined; Oct. 4 — 5A regionals completed; Oct. 9-11 — State championships (5A, Gates Tennis Center, Denver; 4A, Pueblo City Park)
Class 5A Regionals: Region 1 (Centennial League host) — Centennial No. 1, Colorado Springs Metro No. 2, Front Range No. 4, EMAC No. 4, Continental No. 6, Jeffco No. 6, Front Range No. 10; Region 2 (Front Range League host) — Front Range No. 1, Colorado Springs Metro No. 1, Denver No. 3, Continental No. 4, Front Range No. 6, Centennial No. 7, Continental No. 10; Region 3 (Jefferson County League host) — Jeffco No. 1, EMAC No. 1, Centennial No. 2, Centennial No. 4, Continental No. 5, Colorado Springs Metro No. 6, Front Range No. 13; Region 4 (Southwestern League host) — Southwestern No. 1, Southwestern No. 2, Southwestern No. 3, Colorado Springs Metro No. 4, Front Range No. 5, Jeffco No. 7, Front Range No. 11; Region 5 (Continental League host) — Continental No. 1, Denver No. 2, Centennial No. 3, Jeffco No. 4, Centennial No. 6, Continental No. 8, Front Range No. 12, Colorado Springs Metro No. 7; Region 6 (Denver League host) — Denver No. 1, Jeffco No. 2, Colorado Springs Metro No. 3, Denver No. 4, Front Range No. 7, Continental No. 9, Continental No. 11, EMAC No. 5; Region 7 (Continental League host) — Continental No. 2, Front Range No. 3, EMAC No. 3, Centennial No. 5, Continental No. 7, Front Range No. 8, Continental No. 12; Region 8 (Front Range host) — Front Range No. 2, Continental No. 3, EMAC No. 2, Jeffco No. 3, Jeffco No. 5, Colorado Springs Metro No. 5, Front Range No. 9
Aurora coaches: Cherokee Trail — Liz Siegel; Eaglecrest — Alex Moore; Grandview — Jeff Ryan; Overland — Arlandus Lowe; Rangeview — Zeb Carabello; Regis Jesuit — Laura Jones; Smoky Hill — Jeff Davis
Aurora players to watch: Luca Abbott, Regis Jesuit, soph.*.; Cameron Bergan, Cherokee Trail, jr.*; Steven Bummer, Regis Jesuit, jr.*; Matthew Chedid, Rangeview, soph.; Trace Collins, Regis Jesuit, sr.*; Jason Cyrus, Grandview, sr.; Truett Davis, Regis Jesuit, sr.*; Alex Elkin, Smoky Hill, sr.; Danny Eguiluz, Rangeview, jr.; Andy Hansman, Eaglecrest, soph.; Draden Hoover, Overland, soph.*; Joey Ingolio, Smoky Hill, sr.; Alec Jotte, Regis Jesuit, sr.*; Paul Kim, Overland, jr,.; Max Koszowki, Regis Jesuit, jr..; Tommy Koszowki, Regis Jesuit, jr..; David Lai, Cherokee Trail, jr.*; Erich Nuss, Regis Jesuit, soph*.; Steven Palmer, Grandview, sr.; Chanon Penvari, Regis Jesuit, jr.*; Colin Richardson, Cherokee Trail, jr.*; Joey Robertson, Regis Jesuit, sr.*; Vik Sheverda, Cherokee Trail, sr.*; Christian Sunblade, Eaglecrest, jr.; Cooper Tedstrom, Eaglecrest, soph.; Connor Thue, Smoky Hill, sr.; Josh Urban, Rangeview, sr.; Rahul Verma, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Ben Warren, Grandview, jr.; Sean Zubieta, Grandview, sr.; Dylan Zumar, Cherokee Trail, soph.*
* — Returning 5A state qualifier