Last year, for the first time in a decade, Flathead High School didn’t qualify any tennis players for the Class AA state tournament in either girls or boys.
But head coach Buck Measure saw a lot of encouraging signs that have carried over into this season. The enthusiasm that the inexperienced kids displayed last year, Measure said, has been passed on to the 2011 crop of young athletes.
And the more experienced kids have all maintained their zeal as well, which is a beautiful sight for a coach.
“From a coach’s standpoint, I’m really excited about the team we have right now,” Measure said. “There are certainly a majority that are developing, but they’re eager kids. They’re showing an amazing amount of interest.”
Sixty-five kids – including 47 girls – came out for the Flathead High School tennis program. Measure said the numbers are consistent with past years, with a solid number of talented athletes jostling for position on the varsity squads.
In 2000, Flathead’s girls won the Class AA state tennis championship. Since then, the Bravettes have had several top-three finishers at state, while the boys are looking to crack the top-three.
Measure is in his 11th year of coaching at Flathead and his ninth as head coach. He sees a good foundation building over the past two years. There are only seven seniors on the roster this year – two boys and five girls. With so many underclassmen filling out the rest of the roster, Measure is excited about the future.
Among those up-and-coming younger kids are sophomore Tucker Moe and junior Miles Sorlie for boys. Measure expects good things out of both of them this season.
For girls, Measure believes junior Annie Marshall and Barrie Sugarman should be competitive this season. Measure will also look to senior Andrea Battello to provide strong play and senior leadership.
Like other teams across Montana, Flathead has been restricted to indoor practices because of weather, making it hard for coaches to figure out their singles and doubles rotations. Measure is trying to figure out his lineups before the season kicks off on April 2 at Flathead Valley Community College against the two Class AA Great Falls schools.
Flathead’s boys and girls play in Missoula on April 9 and then are back at FVCC on April 12. As the season progresses, Measure expects his young team to mature and prove they can compete, both this year and for the years to come.
“Our sophomores and juniors got us off to a good start last year,” Measure said. “That level of intensity – I can see it in the freshmen as well. Hopefully our program will gain some experience and get better as the season goes on.”
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