The Carmel boys’ varsity tennis team (4-0) has become larger and stronger than in previous years, with an outstanding start to the season, including 7-0 wins against Palma on Tuesday and Santa Cruz on Monday.
“I think this is the best team we have had in many years and the future looks bright,” head coach Mike Zury says.
This year the Padres have a team of 16 players, with “19 that were interested in playing” at the beginning of the season, Zury says. The team has 10 starters and 6 alternates this year, a big jump from last season when they had 10 players, the minimum for a full team.
“It felt good to beat Palma this year considering they were the team that kept us out of CCS last year,” senior Colin O’Grady said after Tuesday’s match. “Hopefully, we can continue this momentum into further matches.”
They swept again Monday against Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League champion last year, and on March 1 against Pacific Grove.
On Feb. 27 the Padres had their first match against Aptos High and won 5-2 while they “worked out some bugs,” Zury says.
Zury has high hopes for the season.
“We had a great season last year,” he says, “but I am looking at this year as a start to great things to come. With hard work I think we will soon be the team to beat. I think this team is going to stand out as one of the top two to three teams in all of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.”
The team has a good deal of new blood.
“We have a very new team, including myself and many new freshmen,” junior Will Taylor says. “[These players] will make us a force to be reckoned with.”
This year they have four freshmen and only three seniors in the starting 10, who have all made an impressive start since their second match. For the first match against Aptos, the team did not bring their normal starting doubles teams.
“We added some real firepower at the top….Nick Combs and Nico Holloman have added great depth to our singles line-up at the two and three spots,” Zury says.
Freshman Matt O’Grady says the team is really laid back with many new players enjoying honing their skills.
While it is a group of many new players, Zury feels the team is bonding well.
The Padres were slated to play Monterey High on Thursday in their first league match and have a series of six straight league matches in the next three weeks including tough bouts with Monterey, Hollister and defending champion Stevenson, as well as league matches against Salinas and York.
Their next match is at Stevenson on Tuesday at 4 p.m., and their next home match is March 18 at 3:45 p.m. against Hollister.