Cowboys to rely on summer program
The Crook County Cowboy tennis team sent just one player to this year's state tournament: foreign exchange student Pablo Casado.
However, Casado is not the only key player that the team will lose off of this year's roster.
In addition to Casado, foreign exchange student Yuya Yamaguchi and seniors Moses Freauff, Garrett Bond and Jordan Owens all played key roles in the success of this year's team.
"We are going to miss our seniors and foreign exchange students," head coach Jonny Oelkers said.
Casado, who was the team's top singles player, won a match at the state tournament before falling to the eventual state champion.
Bond started the season playing doubles but finished as the team's No. 2 singles player.
Meanwhile, Freauff and Yamaguchi teamed up midway through the year to become the No. 1 doubles team, falling just short of earning a trip to the state tournament.
Owens also contributed to the team's success, playing No. 4 doubles at the end of the year.
That means that the Cowboys will have to replace nearly half of their varsity roster for next season, leaving the team with limited experience.
Still, that does not mean that the team will not have any experienced players returning.
No. 3 singles player Jeremy McCullough, who showed huge improvement by the end of the season, returns as do doubles teams Tucker Bonner and Ben Sather, who moved up to No. 2 doubles late in the season. Doubles team Nick Cushman and Ty Cross also return.
Several other players also gained important varsity experience during the course of the season.
Still, Oelkers acknowledges that the team will be young.
The Cowboys would have expected to be one of the top teams in the Tri-Valley Conference. However, with the move up to Class 5A last season, the competition was stiffer. In order for the team to compete at the Class 5A level, team depth has got to improve. In order for that to occur, Oelkers said that players need more court time.
For years, former head girls coach Lloyd Rodgers ran a summer program through Crook County Parks and Recreation District. However, last year that did not happen as Rodgers retired.
Oelkers believes that the Parks and Rec program is critical to the team's future success and has begun implementing a new summer program, which will start July 8.
"We're going to be trying to build a strong program by running a summer tennis program for Parks and Rec," Oelker said.
Oelkers encouraged anyone interested in the program to sign up through the Parks and Rec District.
In addition, Oelkers is hoping that current returning players will play as much tennis as possible during the off season.