Jasper boys tennis encountering challengesAugust 6, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — The challenge is there for Jasper boys tennis. The Wildcats made it to the state semifinals in 2020, but their entire doubles lineup graduated, as did their No. 3 singles player, Grant Levy. Last year's No. 1, Justin Shultz, is back for his senior year, but he's out dealing a shoulder problem at the moment.
"Last year, an experienced team, this year, inexperience, which makes it a little bit of a different flavor," Wildcats coach Scott Yarbrough said. "So, it'll be a lot of fun.”
Jasper will have last year's No. 2 singles player, Max Sternberg, back for this year, and he's the tentative choice for the No. 1 spot while Shultz is out. In fact, Shultz and Sternberg would have to have a challenge match if the former was healthy because Yarbrough said both have had really good summers.
The two of them, plus junior Reece Lampert, have prior varsity experience, though Lampert wasn't in the lineup at the end of the year last year. However, Yarbrough encountered the problem of having a lack of varsity experience with the girls team this past spring, and they still found their way to the state semifinals.
"We're going to really have a mix from freshmen all the way up to seniors that could play together — very similar like the girls," he said. "So, from that standpoint, we're going to work on doubles combinations really hard.”
The third senior that Jasper has is Noah Hanneman, who will now get his opportunity in the lineup this year. Yabrough told The Herald that the Wildcats are looking for Hanneman to be "Mr. Versatility," as somebody who could go both ways as a singles player and a doubles player this year.
He said on Wednesday it was likely that Sternberg would play No. 1 singles, Lampert No. 2 singles and Hanneman in the No. 3 singles spot heading into the year. Yarbrough noted of the inexperience, but one question he's had answered early on so far was that he has about seven or eight players who could play doubles, though the only ones for certain who could play doubles at the moment would be junior Noah Schue and sophomore Trey Gutgsell. They wouldn't necessarily be paired together, but the other two spots would be up for grabs.
The Wildcats will have to deal with some different competition in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference, such as Castle, Evansville Memorial and Evansville North. Yet, Jasper Athletics has only been back in the SIAC for one year, so Yarbrough thinks it'll help knowing the other teams more the second time through.
Yarbrough let it be known Jasper wants to get back to state, but there are question marks now with the team's lineup and injuries.
The Wildcats are set to compete in a scrimmage on Thursday at Bloomington North, and open the season Aug. 14 at Evansville Central in a triangular with Evansville Mater Dei.
"I don't see Justin back by (the scrimmage)," Yarbrough said. "And then on that tri, we'll throw out a couple different lineups that day."
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