CASA GRANDE — The Casa Grande Union boys tennis team had a fairly successful season last year, with three qualifiers for the state tournament the team is hoping to continue its solid run.
However, with two impactful seniors gone and facing a new region and division, the Cougars will be forced to endure new challenges this season.
While top doubles pair Hunter Scholes and Joey Toussaint had a great run with the Cougars, senior Brayden Hollenbach and junior Judas Ortega take over the top spot for the team.
Head coach Matthew Lembreg said that the important thing for the team this year is finding the right pairings that mesh together and hoping team chemistry will be their strong suit.
“These guys have played a lot of tennis, I think I kind of expected our ladders to fall as they have, but these guys can surprise some people,” Lemberg said. “We are a few matches in at this point and we have some really good wins, it’s been fun so far and I hope it stays that way.”
For Hollenbach, his senior year could prove to be his best. After qualifying for the state tournament as a singles competitor for the past two years, Lemberg is expecting him to take another big step forward in his final year.
“For him, it’s about finding the motivation to keep improving,” Lemberg said. “He’s done great so far and I expect him to continue to do great. Looking at the big picture, he wants to win some matches and he wants to qualify for state again, so there are some goals there. A lot of the motivation is coming from within, so the guys are getting behind him and he’s off to a great start.”
Although the team is 3-3 this year, the season still holds many questions that are waiting to be answered.
One of the biggest questions will be how the team handles a new division. After moving from Division II to Division I, the Cougars will face new teams that will be a large hurdle for the team to get over.
While Lemberg is unsure how the season will play out given the new region, he expects his players to continue to play their game and be competitive.
“We don’t have three years of experience playing the same teams as we have in the past, so it’s definitely going to be different,” he said. “I think that obviously, the larger schools who have deeper teams are going to pose a threat, but we have been competitive, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Overall, the plan for Lemberg is for his team to match the success that they had last year and if possible, surpass it. Although the new season brings new challenges, Lemberg said his team is ready to face them.
“Our goal is to just keep getting better,” he said. “We fell short of winning our division, but we made the state tournament. After spring break we come back and start playing again and by that point, we will see what happens.”
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