Thin is an understatement when applied to the turnout for the Englewood High School boys tennis team, because the Pirates had just three players on the court at the end of the first week of practice.
“We have a dozen or more guys who said they were interested in playing tennis. That includes six of seven guys who have not completed all the paperwork required before they can join our practices,” coach Jim Johnson said during the Aug. 16 practice at Romans Park. “The boys tennis team has never had a lot of boys come out. But this year I think the fact school doesn’t start until September means I expect we’ll see a few more guys joining us late this month or early next month.”
The small turnout is a concern because the Pirates are scheduled to play three matches before school opens. The opener is Aug. 23 at home against Arvada; the Pirates travel to Denver South on Aug. 27; and they are at home Aug. 29 against Machebeuf.
“We’ll have kids to play those matches but may not have a full team because, once players get all the paperwork completed, they must get in a specific number of practices before they can play a match and there might not be time to get those practices completed,” the Pirates coach said. “So, we’ll do the best we can and I expect we’ll eventually be able to fill all three singles and four doubles team spots on the roster.”
He said athletes interested in joining the boys tennis team can meet with him as he holds practice each weekday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the park at 1800 E. Floyd Ave.
The Pirates do have some returning lettermen, including Gage Silfast, who played No. 2 singles last season.
“I have tried to improve my game and I think the area I have improved the most is in my serve,” the senior said. “I have learned to vary the amount of spin on the ball and I have learned to improve serve placement.”
He said he likes tennis and added that it is a fun game to play, but it isn’t a lot of fun to watch.
“I think my serve and my forehand will be the strengths of my game this season,” Silfast said. “I look forward to getting back into competition and I guess my personal goal this season is to win more matches.”
Senior Ellis Bairs played both No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles last season.
“Doubles are OK but I like playing singles better because I think it is easier to cover the court by myself,” he said. “My forehand has always been the strength of my game but now that forehand will be even better because I have learned to put spin on the ball when I hit it back over the net.”