Janesville Craig to rely on singles
The Cougars, who open the season Saturday by hosting a quadrangular, return two singles players starting their fourth-year on varsity, and another third-year varsity player.
Unfortunately for coach Justin Long, the Cougars are lacking experience in doubles.
“I’ve told other coaches that we are old in our experience, but young, as well,” Long said. “Hopefully, the kids that have been around can take control. That will allow the younger kids to see how it’s done, and they will, in turn, follow suit.”
Leading the list of returnees is Joel Neher. The senior, who played No. 2 singles last year and is a four-year varsity player, will move to No. 1 singles.
“Joel’s had a good run the last three years, and I’m hopeful he can make a run at (qualifying for) state this year,” Long said. “He’s very consistent and a great athlete.”
Junior Derek Masters will play No. 2 singles after playing No. 4 a year ago, while senior Mo McCrone will make the switch from No. 1 doubles to No. 3 singles.
“I think Derek will make a smooth transition from No. 4 to No. 2. He’s another consistent player that works hard,” Long said. “And Mo is a three-sport athlete that has a strong overall game.”
Junior Sam dePoutiloff is expected to play No. 4 singles.
Juniors Cody Lipetri and Zach Harden won the starting spot at No. 1 doubles.
“Cody and Zach know they have a big challenge ahead of them playing No. 1, but if they keep the right mentality and keep working hard, I think by the end of the year, they could be a pretty good team,” Long said.
Long has not decided on his No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams, but he will choose from juniors Scott Catlin, Matt Hayden and Joe Worple, along with freshman Ross Sroda and sophomore Katsumi Neeno.
“Everybody is excited to get going, and we should know a little more about this team after Saturday,” Long said. “We start out with a very good team in Monroe.”
“It should be a fun season.”
(Home matches at Palmer Park)
April: Craig Quadrangular (Elkhorn, Monroe, Oregon), 9 a.m.; 11—Sun Prairie, 4:15 p.m.; 15—Cougar Triangular (Milton and Sauk Prairie at Janesville Parker), 4 p.m.; 19—Beloit Memorial, 4;15 p.m.; 26—At Madison La Follette, 4:15 p.m.; 28—Madison Memorial, 4:15 p.m.
May: 3—At Middleton, 4:15 p.m.; 5—Janesville Parker, 4:15 p.m.; 6—At Watertown Quadrangular, 4 p.m.; 10—At Madison East, 4:15 p.m.; 12—Madison West, 4:15 p.m.; 14—At Sun Prairie Quadrangular, 9 a.m.; 16—At Verona, 4:15 p.m.; 19—At Big Eight Conference Meet (Nielsen Indoor Tennis Stadium), 8 a.m.