Boonville tennis coach Stephanie Green said the 2019 season is shaping up to be another successful season for the Pirates.
After winning back to back district titles and finishing 11-2 overall and 6-0 in the NCMC in 2018, Green said the Pirates squad is young but they are going to be competitive.
“We have really good athletes and that is key,” Green said. “I think we have built up to the successes the last two years. We encouraged the student athletes who came out and developed them from a young age.”
With 20 netters and six returning letterwinners this season for Boonville, Green said its going to be strange not playing in a conference for the first time but in terms of district the Pirates should be competitive.
With only two teams in the Tri-County Conference with tennis, Boonville will have to play some of its old rivals from the NCMC (Marshall, Moberly, Fulton and Mexico) to fill out its schedule. Nonetheless, Green said the goals for the season are still the same. She said the Pirates would like to win another district title.
“We also want our younger players to develop into strong tennis players,” Green said. “We do have good athletes and they are dedicated so that helps. We also have competitors which will add to a higher standard of play and we just want to keep this program growing in numbers and strength.”
Of course if there is one thing that could hinder Boonville’s advancement this spring, it’s the players lost last year to graduation. Green said it will take time for the new players to get acclimated to playing varsity after losing four starters in singles last year. “We have not been outside due to the weather so that has delayed our progress, but I am assuming everybody else is in the same position,” Green said.
Green will also have to work her magic in singles while losing over three-fourths of the team to graduation. The good news is that juniors Josh Chrisman and Quin Gentry are back to fill some of the void at the No. 1 and 2 positions. While playing No. 5 singles last year and finishing 13-3 overall, Green said Chrisman has the experience in singles after playing with the more advanced players the last two years.
“Josh won conference last year at No. 5 singles and had one of his three losses to the district champ,” Green said. “He will do fine at No. 1 singles just because he’s smart and a great competitor.”
As for Gentry, he also returns after finishing the 2018 season at 12-3 overall at the No. 6 singles position. Green said Gentry has done a lot of work in terms of bettering his game and himself as an athlete. “Like Josh, Quin has the experience with the older players,” Green said. “He came up learning from them and been strong thus far in practice.”
Junior Will Rehagen has also picked up a few things along the way while playing with his brother the last two years. As the No. 7 player last year for Boonville, Green said Rehagen will jump into the No. 3 spot. “Will mostly played doubles last year,” Green said. “He was our utility player. Will has worked a lot in the offseason with his strokes and his patience and  hopefully that will carryover to this season. He just needs the experience.”
At the No. 4 position, Green will look to another player with experience in senior Andrew Pefferman. While playing the No. 8 and 9 spot last year, Green said Pefferman played a lot of doubles last year. “His strokes are developing and he works at it,” Green said. “He has been playing a while so that experience is going to help.”
Green is also counting on the experience junior Aaron Witting gained from playing last year will benefit him this season at the No. 5 spot.
While playing mostly JV doubles, Green said Witting’s athleticism and intelligence as far as seeing the court will be his strengths this season. “Aaron just needs experience to make things happen,” Green said.
As for the No. 6 position, Green will look to senior Dalton Pannell to step up his game after playing mostly JV doubles in 2018. Green said Pannell has worked really hard. “This is Dalton’s fourth year of playing so he knows the game and knows what to do,” Green said. “We’re going to be young in singles but the work we have done the last two years will help them execute this season.”
Green says she also has confidence in the top six teams in doubles because of their experience together and the success they’ve had at their spots.
If it’s experience Green is looking for in doubles, the No. 1 team of Chrisman and Gentry should have plenty after playing together the last two years. While finishing 12-1 overall and 4-0 in the conference at the No. 3 spot last year, Green said Chrisman and Gentry also beat St. Dominic’s doubles team 8-2 in sectionals. “Josh and Quin know each others strengths and weaknesses and they are looking for different ways to improve their doubles game,” Green said.
The No. 2 doubles team of Rehagen and Pefferman also return with experience after playing together last year at the No. 1 spot in JV doubles. While finishing 8-1 overall, Green said Rehagen and Pefferman compliment each other but will need to step up this season.
At the No. 3 doubles position, Green will look to Witting and Pannell to fill that spot after playing No. 3 JV doubles last year. While finishing 4-1 as a team in 2018, Green said Witting and Pannell are a interesting pair because they are both very competitive. “Aaron has athleticism and a great work ethic and Dalton has a great work ethic as well so I expect them to learn a lot this year,” Green said.
At No. 4 doubles, Green said the team of Tucker Kaiser and Gabe Greis show great potential. Although both are first year players, Green said the duo doesn’t look like first year players on the court. Green added that Kaiser is currently No. 7 in singles while Greis is right behind him at the No. 8 spot.
As for the final two spots, Green said it’s up in the air at this point. “We’ll be trying a lot of different combinations the next two weeks,” Green said. “However if I had to start the season today I would say Gabe Brimer and Emanuel Bartolomeo would probably play the No. 5 position in doubles and Austin Coleman and Travis Dell would be at the No. 6 position. Of course that could change once we get more practice time out on the courts.”