Southridge boys turning to new batchAugust 4, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Southridge boys tennis will have a vastly different 2021 lineup than the one it had in 2020.
Gone are Austin Barkley, the team’s No. 1 singles from a year ago and also Roger Hunter, the team’s No. 3 singles. The Raiders will also have completely new doubles teams this year following the graduation of Levi Schaeffer and Sam Sermersheim. They also graduated last year’s individual regional tandem of Ethan Bell and Konner Thyen.
Yet, last year’s No. 2 singles player, Max Rasche, is back for his senior year — and Raiders coach Paul Kinker will be counting a lot on him.
“Hopefully, he’ll progress into the number one,” Kinker said of Rasche. “He’s been playing hard, getting some practice in — he’s looking good.”
Kinker told The Herald that Rasche is “probably” the team’s top singles player. This is going to be Rasche’s third year on varsity, and as last year’s only returning varsity player, he’s bound to fit into the mix somewhere. It’s just a matter of where.
Yet, he’ll be looking a lot towards his junior class this year. He mentioned Brice King as a singles candidate, and said King was likely a No. 2 or No. 3 singles player, citing how nice of a serve he has. Kinker noted Mick Uebelhor could go either way.
“He’s a good tennis player,” he said of Uebelhor. “Konner’s twin younger brothers, Kaden and Kyan — good doubles players. So, I’m hoping they’ll step in to fill the void there because it’s going to be tough.”
Kinker said the twins will both be doubles players, and added that senior Cory Abell will also play doubles somewhere.
However, Southridge won’t rely heavily on its doubles — at least not right away. He knows the pairings won’t be as strong this year out of the gate. The Raiders will hope to improve in that area, but for now, it’s turning to Rasche and also part of the junior class in the singles department.
The Raiders have quantity, but Kinker believes they also have quantity. They were simply “waiting in the wings” because of how strong last year’s senior class was.
Somebody like Abell, for example, has prior tennis experience, but now he’s getting the chance to prove what he can do.
“This is his fourth year, he just hadn’t had the opportunity to show himself,” Kinker said. “Very good leader on the court and off the court."
It’s also about finding the right chemistry with this group, because many have played with one another on junior varsity for years and are friends off the court.
Southridge is in the process of challenge matches at practice this week. Kinker noted they’d been doing some running and conditioning during open courts this summer — with the conditioning increasing now. He cited them as good athletes, but now he wants to make them good tennis players.
“I don’t necessarily have to worry about them wearing out in the second or third set,” he said. “I need to worry about them getting to the third set.”
The Raiders are set to have a scrimmage Aug. 14 at Evansville North, and open the season Aug. 16 at home against Pocket Athletic Conference rival Boonville.
What he’s looking for is not necessarily a win when the season starts, but to give full effort and being willing to play the match. If his players split the first two sets, he’s looking for the mental attitude to win the third set.
Southridge just missed out on a berth in last year’s sectional championship. So, the Raiders will try to get to that final day this year.
“These guys are a good group of athletes,” Kinker said. “I think it’s time to prove that. They have big shoes to fill. I hope they can fill them. I think we will continue to get better through the season, and we’ll see.”
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