Four players who placed in the conference tournament last year return for the Coupeville High School tennis team, and the quartet will help the Wolves defend their Olympic League title.
Coupeville won the conference crown in both 2015 and 2016 and hasn’t dropped a league match since 2014.
Seniors Joey Lippo and William Nelson form the league’s best doubles team; and after finishing third in the district tournament last fall, the pair should contend for a state berth this season.
Also back are senior Nick Etzell and junior Jakobi Baumann, who placed third and fourth, respectively, in the Olympic League singles tournament in 2016.
Other returning lettermen are juniors Jaschon Baumann, Tiger Johnson and Nile Lockwood and sophomores Mason Grove, Zach Ginnings and Koby Schreiber.
Key newcomers, according to coach Ken Stange, are junior Harris Sinclair, sophomore Thane Peterson, freshman Drake Borden and foreign exchange student Pedro Gamarra.
The strength of the team, according to Stange, is its talented doubles team and the return of all three starting singles players (Etzell, Jakobi Baumann and Grove) from last year.
The singles players “should shoulder more of the load this year, in terms of individual match wins,” Stange said.
The team’s weaknesses are its squad size and the inexperience of the newcomers.
“We are a small team of 14 players, and this could prove detrimental if players miss matches for any reason,” Stange said. “We need 11 to field a full squad.
“Many of our players are inexperienced but are picking the game up quickly. It’ll be nice to have a match on the first day of school. That will give us some useful information moving forward.”
Counting both his fall and spring teams, Stange is entering his 25th season and believes the Wolves (5-8, 4-0 last year) will compete for another league championship.
He hopes to see Lippo and Nelson qualify for state and two or three singles players qualify for district.
The season begins at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, with a home match against Port Angeles.