DuBOIS — While there are some obvious differences to the DuBois Area High School boys tennis team this season, its biggest problem might be the similarities that it has with last year’s squad.
The biggest difference for the Beavers will certainly be an obvious one as Jenna Kirk takes over as the head coach this season. Kirk, who has been the girls head coach for the past few seasons, takes over for Rob Keith, who will stay on as an assistant.
However, the Beavers will still face a couple of the same issues that they did last season with a lack of experience and the prospect of a difficult postseason.
DuBois had just one returning player on a roster of 13 last year and will only do slightly better than that this season as it returns just a handful on a 14-man roster.
Senior Glenn Kirk is the most experienced of the group as he’s starting his fourth season while junior Joe Hnat will take part in his third.
However, more than half of the players on the team are either sophomores or freshmen.
“I’m really not too concerned about the experience,” Jenna Kirk said. “We have a couple with some (significant) experience. Glenn has played all though high school and Joe is playing his third. He’s probably been playing for more than that because his older brother Josh played. There are a lot of the new kids have some potential.”
One of those is senior Henry Sutter, who is a first-year player.
“Henry is really athletic and has seemed to catch on real quick, so he’s real promising as are some of the other kids,” Kirk said.
DuBois will also face a difficult task when it heads into the postseason as it will again face a District 6 team in a sub-regional contest.
The biggest problem with that is that a majority of the top-tier District 6 players have access to indoor courts and play throughout the year instead of simply during good weather.
That certainly created a big hurdle for the Beavers at the end of last season.
“Even though I don’t think that they did well at districts, it was probably motivation to get better,” Kirk said. “If you just play the teams around here, most of the teams are pretty even, and you don’t get to see that next level of play. So, I think that’s motivational.”
While DuBois has had the benefit of much better weather this spring, the Beavers are still a little up in the air as to who will fit where in the lineup.
That lineup is likely to feature Glenn Kirk and Hnat somewhere in singles’ play while Sutter, junior Ben Suslow and freshman Erik Shaffer could also fit in the mix somewhere as well.
If Shaffer doesn’t fit in to the singles lineup, he could still find a spot in doubles as could sophomore Paul Brittain and junior Nick Troisi.
Still, that lineup is far from set in stone and will likely change throughout the season.
DuBois will open the year on the road against Hollidaysburg Thursday.
Seniors: Glenn Kirk, Cody Shakespeare, Henry Sutter. Juniors: Ben Suslow, Nick Troisi, Joe Hnat. Sophomores: Paul Brittain, Dom Umbaugh, Jon Russell. Freshmen: Corey Giles, Lucas Knarr, Noah Kriner, Dave Glass, Erik Shaffer.