Yosemite High School boys tennis is off to a good start this season playing seven competitive matches last week -- winning against Hoover, Los Banos, Wasco and Delano and losing to Sunnyside, Madera and Golden Valley (Merced) for a 4-3 record.
A familiar face has joined the Badger coaching staff this season -- two-time CIF football champion head coach Aaron Eames.
"Coach Eames brings a wealth of tennis experience to our team," coach Stan Lawrence said. "He came from a tennis playing family and played two years at Allen Hancock Community College in Santa Maria. He was also nationally ranked as a junior player."
The Badgers played in last weekends California High School Tennis Championship tournament in Fresno and other Valley towns. The tournament is the largest of its kind in the country with 120 teams competing this year. After preliminary play March 1, the Badgers were placed in a bracket with teams with the same record.
The team won two hard fought matches over Los Banos and Waco earning a championship T-shirt.
"The guys were pumped to win the shirt," Eames said.
The Badgers return 14 players from last year's varsity and JV squads.
"Our numbers have been steadily increasing," Lawrence said. "With only eight varsity spots to fill, there will be strong competition between our players to fill those spots."
Although Lawrence is happy with the returning players, he said only four new players have joined the team so far this season.
"We are hoping to attract some younger players to the team this year," Lawrence said. "Many of our returning players played either soccer or basketball. These sports are naturales for tennis players. There is still time for interested freshmen to join the squad."
"I'm having a great time with these athletes," said Eames. "They are extremely coachable and willing to do whatever is asked of them to improve their game."
Volunteer Eddie Ellis rounds out the coaching staff for the Badgers.
The team hopes to improve significantly over its 4 - 6 league record from last year.
"We are poised to make a run for the league title this year," Eames said.
Mike Neff, Matt Whitecotten, and Ben Williams spearheaded the singles efforts. Chase Lassos, Craig Stieler, Aaron Bausch, Sam Devito, Chandler Haas, Jordan Rose and Kenny Jeffris comprise the doubles teams.
"We have two weeks until league play starts with many spots to be earned. It should be an interesting and exciting season for us" Lawrence said.