Combined with elite talent and fresh faces, the Lakeland boys’ tennis team is ready for a new chapter to begin.

The courts are fully open as the Thunderbirds preps for their first match of the year. Coach Ted Dasler is back and ready to lead his group to another season. 

One great story from last year was that of Jack Garcia and Tony Holmes. They were the No. 1 doubles pairing last year, making first team all-Great Northern Conference and even doubles players of the year.

Not only that, but they made it all the way to state. Garcia has since graduated, but back is Tony Holmes. The Thunderbirds will look to use him as a key piece to season. 

In addition to Tony Holmes, seniors Alex Tucker, Zach Kane and Josh Kakuschke are also back. Kane was a part of the No. 3 singles and accumulated a record of 3-4. Tucker and Kakuschke were a No. 3 doubles pair that went 2-3.

Matt Holmes, the No. 2 singles player last year, is injured and unable to return this year. He went 6-2 a year ago and placed fourth during the conference meet.

But there are new players as well. Coming over from hockey are sophomores Zac Muenzer and Collin Guelcher. 

Guelcher was a hockey goalie, giving him some experience in defending a net, which will be similar to what he does in tennis. 

“Typically, hockey players are strong, good athletes with ‘quick twitch’ muscle response. That translates to tennis racquet quickness,” said Dasler. 

Both of these athletes are new to tennis, but one who has played before is freshman Riley Littleton. He has some experience in the game before, which will be helpful with anyone new. Finally, Aidan Graf, a senior, joins for the first time and will be partnering with fellow senior Tucker.

“We will gain senior savvy paired with experience,” said Dasler. 

As the young players learn how the game is played and doubles pairings can get situated, this can be a season of opportunity and growth for the Thunderbirds.

The T-Birds opened the season last night with a Great Northern Conference dual against Medford at the LUHS tennis courts and returns to action tomorrow with an invitational at D.C. Everest High School in Weston. 

Brett LaBore may be reached at brett@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.