As has been the case with most teams at Oakdale High School this season, the impact of having the school’s first senior class leading the way has created largely positive results.
New boys tennis coach Susan Givens expects no different from her group heading into the 2013 campaign. Givens, who is the new coach at Oakdale after spending two seasons leading Frederick’s girls program, is cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances in the county.
“I think we have a shot if I get my right lineup and the kids stay focused,” Givens said. “I think we have a shot to run right with everybody this year.”
Returning for Oakdale is, well, everyone, but the main players on the team will be junior Tom Dolan as well as Kevin Emmerich, Jake Merrick and David Rickert.
“He’s a coach’s dream in terms of stroke perfection,” Givens said of Dolan. “His forehand and backhand slice, his serve. You look at him and he’s the poster child for the right way to do things.”
Givens said it was a difficult decision for her to leave Frederick, where Kevin Wildfang is the new girls’ coach, especially with standout No. 1 singles player Bridgett Blowe returning for the Cadets. But Givens’ sons attend Oakdale and she lives close to the school. Not to mention she’s excited for the team’s possibilities.
“You want to nurture your upcoming talent and want it to grow, but you also want to be fair to the kids who have been there since the beginning of the program,” Givens said. “So there’s a lot of juggling. Having too much talent can be as challenging as having not enough talent.”
A team that hasn’t lacked talent in recent years is Urbana, which could be considered the favorite to once again win the county. The Hawks, particularly on the boys’ side, are strong again under the direction of Jon Walton. Four-year No. 1 singles player Ed Yoon returns to lead Urbana, while standout juniors Archit Gupta and Eliot Sachsenmeier both are back.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the young guys respond,” Walton said. “We’ll have an interesting mix of some guys who are four and three-year varsity players.
“We have a program identity, I think, that we hope allows us to stay relatively strong, even when we’re rebuilding. I’m sure the other teams in the county who return a lot more than we do will have something to say about that.”
One such team that returns a promising pair of No. 1 singles players is Tuscarora, where the Homon brothers, Nathan and Tyler, are both back for their sophomore season. They were the only team from Frederick County to win a match last season at states and Titans coach Howard Putterman said he’s planning to build the team around them.
“They performed very well last year and they’ve got some experience now,” Putterman said. “They’ve grown up a little bit, added a little more power to their game and we’re really looking forward to seeing what they can do this year.”