Larry Holmes is in a very unique position and he is not complaining.
How many rookie coaches get an opportunity to take over a defending state champion team that returns possibly the two best players in the state?
The new badminton coach at Mountain Pointe knows he has it good after taking over for Pom Brown, who retired after winning the school’s eighth state title.
“There are added expectations because of what this program has accomplished, but that’s OK,” Holmes said. “Everyone wants to be pushed and challenged. That’s what we have to do to keep it going.”
While Mountain Pointe is expected to make another run at a state title, Desert Vista is in a bit of a transition as well.
Coach Jeremy Williams is back for his ninth year with a roster limited on varsity experience.
The only returning player from last season’s state-qualifying squad is sophomore Karen Guo, who made it to the third round of singles, after losing six of the top seven players to graduation.
Williams, who is 77-58 in his time at DV, believes his squad will be stronger at the end year.
“We will have a good work ethic,” said Williams, whose team opens the season at home against Corona del Sol on Sept. 3. “We will work on being consistent.”
While Williams has plenty of coaching experience to get the team through the early portion of the season while the players get acclimated to the varsity level, Holmes will do his best to assimilate himself to the sport. He took some classes in college and played sparingly, but his tennis background as a college player, instructor and Pride boys tennis coach will help as well.
“Some of the shots and techniques are the same,” he said. “It has gone fairly smooth. I’ve talked to a couple of the girls during the summer to get acquainted.”
It helps having Kiyoko Hashimoto and Vi Koka back. They won the individual state doubles title in 2011 and were No. 1 and No. 2 singles on last year’s state team title and finished second and third, respectively, at the individual state singles tournament. Larae Keso, who played in the fifth spot last year, is also in the fold.
“There are three or four JV players who are solid, too,” Holmes said. “It’s going to be very interesting, but it obviously helps having two players at the top who are as good as they are.”
The season opens at home on Sept. 3 against Chaparral, along with Xavier and Mountain Pointe, who is always a contender at the end.
“From everything I’ve been told Chaparral is one of the teams to beat,” Holmes said. “We get a chance to see how good we are from the start.”
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