After an 11-3 season and a berth in the Division 1 playoffs, Desert Vista boys tennis looks ready to do even more this year.
The Thunder had no seniors on the varsity. Essentially everybody is back.
“It’s great that we’ve got all these guys on the team again. Another year of experience and another year of growing together, I think it’s going to be a fun season,” coach Adrian Boyarski said.
Luke Urlaub, a junior, who reached the state individual quarterfinals, said the Thunder were excited with the results as a young team. He is hoping that familiarity with the playoffs and those big matches will serve Desert Vista well.
“We’ve got the same guys, but a different attitude: Really, working together, and we want it,” Urlaub said. “Making the playoffs last year was fun. Now we want even more.”
The Thunder have added to their nucleus. Among the additions is Lleyton Ito, a junior, who has played the sport for years but is joining the high school team for the first time.
“I knew the guys in school and played with some of them outside of high school so it wasn’t that hard to fit in,” Ito said.
Ito and the returnees are expected to solidify the bottom of the lineup. Arizona’s best squads have great players throughout their lineups, especially the lower spots.
While Urlaub will compete with any top player he faces, having the top player is not enough to conquer the best teams. It has been six seasons since the top singles player and the team champion came from the same school.
Other area teams graduated top players, forcing them to move returning starters to higher spots in the lineup this year. The Thunder have the luxury of moving quality players down to capture points at the lower matches.
“We’re hoping that bottom of the lineup can be a real strength for us,” Boyarski said.
Ito echoed that.
“I know the team had some struggles winning at the lower spots in some years past,” Ito said. “Now, that’s kind of where we’re pretty good. Luke’s great at the top, and then I think the bottom part of the lineup is solid, too.”
The Thunder can compete in the six singles and three doubles matches with nearly any team in the state, but Urlaub cautioned that Desert Vista must compete throughout the season and not look too far ahead.
“I think we’re going to have a target on us because some of the other teams know we’ve got all these players again, so it is not going to be easy,” Urlaub said. “We’re confident, though.”