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Three-peat a possibility for WCHS tennis
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The Warren County High School boys tennis team is in uncharted waters when it comes to local athletics recently.
The Pioneers are again favorites to win District 6-AAA, a feat the team has accomplished the past two years.
The boys tennis team is the only group to capture a District 6-AAA title since Warren County moved into the new district three years ago and the Pioneers want to make it three straight titles against its foes from Coffee County, Cumberland County, Cookeville and White County.
Coach David Dunlap is confident his team can take home the “three-peat.” With a number of returning players, including senior standouts Seth Grissom, Thomas Locke and Mitchell Fuqua, the Pioneers are poised to make another run to the regional tournament.
Before the Pioneers start focusing on another regional berth though, coach Dunlap wants a third straight District 6-AAA championship.
“We got a lot of good guys returning who have helped us win the last two,” said Dunlap. “We could win again if we play well throughout the season.”
The Pioneers did get a bit of bad news over the summer when top player Shunsuke Nakashima and his family moved back to Japan.
The absence of Nakashima will force coach Dunlap to shuffle his lineup, but with 17 players this season, Dunlap has lots of options.
Grissom should return as the team’s top singles player. Grissom has been a top finisher in the district’s singles tournament the past two seasons and could compete with Locke this year for top honors.
Locke is currently brushing off some rust from playing basketball the past five months, but still looks like a viable option to play No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles for the Pioneers.
Fuqua has been a steady contributor the past two seasons as a singles player and doubles partner. Entering his senior season, Fuqua is listed as the team’s No. 4 singles player and slated to team with junior Bryce Caten or fellow senior Austin Sauer in No. 2 doubles.
Caten burst on the scene in his sophomore year to finish the season as one of the Pioneers top-six players. Caten will be counted on even more in his second year with the Warren County tennis team.
With each varsity match consisting of six singles matches and three doubles contests, competition for the top-six spots is fierce.
Grissom, Locke, Caten and Fuqua have solidified their spots atop the team’s rankings, but Sauer and fellow senior Will Marttala are trying to fend off a number of young players who are making runs at being one of the Pioneers’ top-six singles players.
Freshmen Jake Hunt and Kirkland Sauer are already making noise this season and sophomore Ben Gawel is coming off an impressive debut with the Pioneers.
Coach Dunlap is hoping to split his season matches evenly between his varsity and junior varsity team. Many of the JV matches will play against the other team’s varsity, but Warren County’s depth could make each contest close.
The Pioneers face a change in schedule this season. In the previous two years, every District 6-AAA matchup counted to the overall district record. This season, however, Warren County will face its district opponents twice each, but only one match will count to the district record.
The Pioneers are hoping to top last year’s 14-2 mark. With 15 regular-season matches on tap, Warren County will have a chance.
The regular season begins Monday, March 12, with a road match against Oakland. The first home match won’t be until April as McMinnville Civic Center plans to resurface the tennis courts this month.