Analy boys tennis team looks like a contender in NBL Oak Division
Analy High School coach Rick Passero has seen a lot of tennis over the past 22 seasons leading both the boys and girls programs, but the 2021 campaign figures to be unique in many ways.
The coaching veteran is unfazed by a nearly yearlong shutdown for high school sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is eager to hit the ground running in the upcoming boy’s season.
“We’re happy to be back out there and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun competing this year,” Passero said. “I’ve got one of the stronger teams I’ve had in a while and we’re looking forward to playing.”
The Tigers have plenty of reason for optimism, with the return of four-year senior Nick Kraemer, who will again be the team’s top singles player.
“Nick is very solid and just unflappable on the court,” Passero noted. “Watching him play, you’d never be able to tell if he was up 5-1 in a match or behind.”
Joining Kraemer in the starting singles lineup (in order of team ranking) are juniors Henry Baggett, Steven Doody and Leo Galbraith.
“All of these guys are great competitors with solid ground-strokes,” Passero said. “What I’ll be looking for this year is continued improvement and maturity from each of them, and just learning how to win close matches.”
With just boys tennis, girls golf and cross country underway with seasons starting up next week, most teams have seen a mild increase in overall numbers in the early going.
“We’ve got about 15 kids overall,” Passero reported. “That includes two seniors, a bunch of juniors and sophomores and four freshmen.”
The Tigers will compete against some of the top teams in the Redwood Empire, battling with the likes of Cardinal Newman, Maria Carrillo, Montgomery and Windsor.
In an effort to minimize COVID risk, players, coaches and spectators will be required to wear masks at all times. The schedule calls for the same teams to play home and away matches each week to promote easier contact tracing if needed.
Another big change to the high school tennis season is the absence of post-season play, with no league championship or NCS tournament on the schedule.
“I think the pressure is off a little bit from previous years,” Passero said, before adding, “Cardinal Newman should be tough and looks like the team to beat.”