While Sedona Red Rock High School boys tennis coach Phil Kovac returns just four players from a year ago, he still has big plans for his team.
Half of the team is new, but Kovac and company still have a team appearance at the 2017 Arizona Interscholastic Association Division III State Championships on their to-do list.
The top 16 ranked teams at the end of the season will qualify, and as long as an individual and a doubles pair play at least eight matches, they can enter the tournament, regardless of record. But each team is limited to just one individual and one doubles pairing.
Last season, sophomore Kai Zimmerman went undefeated as the team’s No. 3 player until sectional play, but did not play at State.
The other most seasoned returner is junior Max Knaus, who played as the No. 2 player in the Scorpions’ ladder.
As far as the newcomers go, Kovac simply hopes to see steady progress during the season, improving on their technique.
The only problem is that court time in a real match situation is at a premium.
“Where we have a disadvantage is not the size of the school,” Kovac said. “But not getting to play a lot of kids.”
The team currently has 12 matches on its schedule, but Kovac hopes to add a couple more.
He is also awaiting the arrival of some players from the Red Rock basketball team.
Having few numbers is not so much of a problem, Kovac said, as long as you have four solid players who can play.
“With four players you should be in the group of 16,” Kovac said. “You have a good chance of doing something.”
Up until their opening match at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at Paradise Honors High School, the Scorpions will be working on the three fundamentals needed to play: Serve, forehand and backhand, among other things.
“You’ve got to be physically, mentally and emotionally tough,” Kovac said.
Kovac has a philosophy of the “three C’s” for his players: Consistency in understanding the three components of the game; control of the ball and where to hit it; and confidence in their play.
Even if his players get off to a rough start, Kovac plans to see solid improvement by the team’s third or fourth match.
Zimmerman, as one of the experienced returners, looks to repeat the same success he had last year on an individual level, but wants to contribute to the team’s success as well.
“I want us to go as a team to State,” Zimmerman said. “Individually, State is important, but I want to do good for our team.”