With eight of its top 10 players from last season gone, the young Davis High boys tennis team is looking to build for a successful future.
The question is, will the youngsters come together in time for that successful future to mean an 11th consecutive appearance in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals?
“It’s kind of a young, new team and I am looking forward to it because there’s a lot of excitement,” said longtime Blue Devil coach Dale Hersch. “I am not really sure where we’re going to be at the end of the year, so I am really excited about that.”
After it had won the previous four section championships, an injury-riddled DHS squad finished second in 2013.
This year’s Devil edition features just one senior — Bob Li — among the 12 players expected to be in the starting lineup. Within that group, Hersch is hoping for big things from several really young hitters, including sophomores Chase Kellison, David Wang and Victor Li and even a couple of freshmen in Cooper Hosley and Jasper Murphy.
“(All of those players) work hard, and it’s going to be exciting to see them play,” Hersch explained, adding that his youngsters are really skilled.
The younger players will provide support to returners like Dan Ferenc-Segedin, Tris Dutta and Louis Pak to form a lineup that Hersch expects to be formidable as early as the season opener, which is set for Monday (3:30 p.m.) against Deer Valley at the Davis High courts.
Davis heads to the annual Central California Tennis Championships in Fresno on March 6-8, travels to Granite Bay for a March 11 match, then begins Delta Valley Conference play March 17 against Monterey Trail at home.
“I certainly expect to win the league … and I hope to at least get to the section finals,” Hersch said.
With a singles crew that probably will include Ferenc-Segedin, Dutta, Pak, Kellison and the two Lis, the locals are looking to use their depth to form strong doubles duos. Blue Devils like Hosley, Murphy, Wang and Scott Lucio will contribute in doubles, but DHS is still tinkering with that key aspect of its lineup.
“We need to work on doubles,” Hersch said. “We’re good, but the better teams will probably beat us up top.”
Notes: The Devils dropped a 7-2 match to rival Jesuit in the 2013 SJS finals. The Marauders got revenge for the 2012 championship match, which Davis won, 5-4, to clinch its fourth straight title. … DHS will have a new No. 1 player — likely Ferenc-Segedin — for the first time in years as 2013 graduate Glenn Hull held that position for his four years on the squad.