Key returners from 2019: "Captains Liam VanAsten and Irwin Montalvo will be expected to play a significant role somewhere in our singles line-up. Konner Gunwall, a sophomore, will also be expected to play a significant role in our singles line-up. New comer and seventh grader Theo Pirvu will also be part of our singles. Where they play will get figured out in challenge matches this week," Storm coach Jim Mason said. "Lots of new faces in doubles and will be trying to figure out doubles combinations! I expect Josh Katof and Mick Fitzgibbons to play an integral part of our doubles line-up."
As a coach, what was it like missing a year? And how did it feel those first few practices? "It was very disappointing for all the seniors last year to miss an entire year. I felt so bad for them. If Mother Nature would allow us to actually hit a few balls so I could see my players play, I would have a better idea of where we stand heading into the year," Mason said.
Team goals for 2021: "Figuring out doubles combinations and teaching four new players how to play doubles will be one goal this year. That will be a work-in-progress. Our schedule is much tougher than in years past. We get tested early on Friday against an always strong Shakopee team and on the following Monday against section favorite, Eden Prairie. After those matches we should have a better idea where we stand moving forward," the coach said.
Key returners from 2019: Rand Bovard, Ryan Sajulga and Ryan Hanson. "All three are seniors and are also captains. I anticipate all three will be playing somewhere in the top of the lineup whether that’s in singles or doubles. All three can hit hard when needed and also can direct the ball where its needed to," Hawks coach Zach Williams said.
As a coach, what was it like missing a year? And how did it feel those first few practices? "Now that we are going into the new season it really doesn’t seem like we missed a beat. The one thing that feels different, as of now, would be all the new faces that have joined the team. Getting to know my players is a blast and it’s great to see the interest and talent coming up," the coach said.
Team goals for 2021: "Team goals would be to finish in the top half of the conference. Missing a year, it is difficult to gauge where each team will fall this season," Williams said.
Key returning athletes from 2019: senior co-captains CJ Velgersdyk and Connor Galloway, junior Max Schmidt. "They were in the singles line-up in 2019. Each has continued to work on their game in the off-season and are off to a good start in 2021," Stars coach Gary Schmidt said. Sophomore Garrett Lyles is currently playing No. 4 singles.
Returning varsity doubles players include seniors Bergen Rosdahl, Caleb Denney, Caleb Vick, and junior Luke Schwen. "As is the case with most teams, there has been experimentation to find the strongest doubles combinations to produce our most competitive team line-up," Schmidt said.
As a coach, what was it like missing a year? And how did it feel those first few practices? "Missing the 2020 season was difficult for players and coaches alike. The captains faithfully led captains practices throughout the winter months to prepare for the 2020 season and it appeared that our players were positioned to hit the ground running once the season began. The cancelling of the 2020 season was disappointing for all to say the least," Schmidt said.
"There was so much excitement during the first few practices of the 2021 season. As a coach, it was fun to see how much the players progressed over the past two years. The guys were especially looking forward to playing matches again. We are grateful that we now have this opportunity," the coach added.
Team goals: "Our team is facing its most challenging schedule to date. We've added Minnehaha Academy and Mounds Park Academy. Both of these schools have traditionally had strong teams. In addition, Chaska and Waconia will be new opponents. Team goals for the season include consistently competing well throughout the season and winning at least two matches in the section tournament. We will join the Wright County Conference in 2022. It will be interesting to see how our team stacks up against other member schools," Schmidt said.
HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC
Key returners from 2019: senior co-captain Aidan O'Donnell, junior co-captain Jack Schaefer, and juniors Nick Blood, Drew Pearson, and Luke Gaedelmann. "I appreciate their commitment and dedication to Holy Family Tennis! In addition to these great guys, our program has grown in 2021! The last five seasons, we have had typically 15 guys playing tennis for Holy Family. In 2021, we have 29 guys representing Holy Family on the tennis court! I attribute this energy to promote our program in such a successful way to the returning players from 2019!" first-year head coach Amy Dean said.
As a coach, what was it like missing a year? And how did it feel those first few practices? "Missing last season was disappointing. We had a great group of guys that were excited to play tennis and the growth that we are seeing in 2021 started with the 2020 returning players. We held our pre-season meeting and there was still hope that we would play tennis. Obviously, we know the outcome and in a time of unknown and worry, it definitely felt deflating," Dean said. "Fast forward to 2021 and even with the rainy and cold weather of late, I think this team feels energized, eager to improve their tennis games, and excited to be on the courts competing!"
Team goals for 2021: "I shared this mission statement with the parents and players at the start of our season ... 'I coach to develop players who will display a commitment to their team, a positive attitude and a strong self-belief while growing their passion for the game of tennis.' I believe if we can accomplish this, we will be better tennis players, better people and a better team," Dean said.
Team outlook: The Skippers have a new coaching staff and are returning six seniors to a line-up from two seasons ago. The team will be missing longtime coach Dave Stearns, who passed away this winter. Coach Stearns led the team to two state titles in the last 10 years. Former JV coach Howe Siegel will be taking the helm. Siegel was also the varsity coach at St. Thomas Academy for 16 years. He will be joined by alums Ben and Dan Wheaton, who are USTPA teaching professionals at Inner City Tennis in Minneapolis.
"The Skippers will be led by senior captain Hari Chidambaram, as well as seniors Graham Ward, Sam Cote, Grant Douville, Lars Birhanzel, and Robert Wang. In addition to seniors, the Minnetonka team is fortunate to have Maddox Lundell playing in the varsity singles line-up as an eighth grader. Maddox is an exceptional young player and highly ranked in the USTA Northern Section," Siegel said.
In addition to Lundell, William Wheaton, Nathan Keese, and Mats Van Gorkum will also compete in singles. Rounding out the doubles players will be sophomores Ethan Chen, Sohum Sodhi and Lucas Martin; underclassmen in doubles include Sam Siegel and Winston Wheaton.
Team goals for 2019: "The Skippers are looking forward to surprising a few teams and are dedicating the season to legendary coach Dave Stearns," Siegel said.