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By LARRY GOFFINET
TELL CITY—Castle has won this area’s boys tennis sectional 20 years in a row, but Tell City is taking aim at ending that streak this season.
The Marksmen have won nine dual matches each of the last two years, going 9-5 last year and winning a tourney at Heritage Hills. They lost to Castle 4-1 in the sectional championship match.
The last time they won more than nine dual matches was 2002, but that is one of their goals this year.
They return five of seven starters from last year, including all three singles players.
Jake Swihart made All-PAC as the Marksmen’s No. 1 singles player last year as a sophomore after playing No. 2 singles behind current Murray State University player Anjan Kashyab as a freshman.
Swihart was the only Marksman to beat Castle in the sectional each of the last two years and last year went 12-7 as he joined Kashyab as the only Tell City sophomores to ever make all-conference.
Zach Fisher played No. 2 singles last year and beat Castle 6-4 in the first set of his sectional finals match.
Jeff Yeung played No. 3 singles most of the time last year, though he played No. 1 doubles in the sectional and Luke Thomas played No. 3 singles.
“All three of our returning singles players—Jeff, Zach, and Jake—are playing each other extremely close, which is great,” said Coach Nick Weyer. “The good news is that our singles positions will be very strong, but it may take a little time to figure out the most effective lineup.”
Weyer said returning starters Thomas and Kevin Yeung will likely start at No. 1 doubles.
That leaves sophomores Chandler Lacy and Jackson Ramsey, both of whom played mostly JV last year, to man No. 2 doubles.
“Chandler and Jackson have stepped up nicely,” said Weyer.
Austin Groves, the only other player on the team, will also be in contention for a doubles spot later “but is currently hurt,” said Weyer.
Depth obviously isn’t a strength for the Marksmen, but experience—including more than usual in the summer—is.
“We’ve had great attendance at our open-court sessions during the summer,” said Weyer. “We started practices much further ahead than we did last year.”
Tell City finished third in the nine-team PAC each of the last two years (tying Southridge for that spot last year).
“We’re looking to move up out of that three spot,” said Weyer. “Our tennis conference is very competitive, but I think we can move up.
“Southridge always seems to be a roadblock, so the outcome of that match will be a great measuring stick for us.”
As for their chances of knocking off Castle in the sectional, “Everyone has to be mentally prepared, ready to roll by the end of the season,” said Weyer. “Playing our tough conference and non-conference schedule will definitely help us prepare to dethrone the Knights.
“It’s a tough task, but we’re ready for the challenge.”