Clearfield boys tennis ready to reap the benefits of renovated courts|
Saturday, March 23, 2013
By Andy Stine Sports Writer
HYDE - For the first time in three years, the Clearfield boys tennis team will enjoy something they haven't had in three seasons - a home court.
Renovations on the tennis courts at the Bison Sports Complex were completed last summer in time for the girls tennis season and now the boys will reap the benefits of the courts. The teams were forced to play on the road every match since 2010.
But the courts aren't the only thing the team is getting back.
Brian Lytle has returned as the head coach of the team after a two-year hiatus. Lytle says he has liked what he's seen so far in practice, despite not being able to use the new facilities because of the recent weather.
"It's been an interesting transition coming back into it with new facilities," he said. "It's been a definite blessing. The group that I have as seniors now were freshmen the last year I coached. It's still hard to gauge at this point since we haven't had any matches and we haven't had any consistent outdoor practice, but I'll be curious to see how much progress has happened from their freshman year."
"I'm looking forward to having the new facilities. Hopefully that generates more excitement and some more interest in the sport."
"It makes a huge difference for the guys who stuck it out for the last three seasons when the home courts weren't an option. That shows how much passion and how much commitment they have. It's a lot of sacrifices to leave school early and all your evenings for every single match. This is going to be a great change for all of us."
With the recent weather, practice has been held in the school's gymnasium and has caused limited team drills. The Bison have been working on serving technique and returns, which has benefited the newcomers.
"The ball just simply doesn't come off the gym court as it does on the outside court," said Lytle. "We've done a lot with the newer group. That will be one of the advantages once we do get to go out with the nice weather where we can play it off the surface."
"We've had to make it work indoors. We've had some opportunity to work outside. Obviously we wish for more time outside in a better world. We're making what we have work, and we have some promising possibilities with the group that we have.
"I'm just excited to see a little more of that once the weather gets a little nicer and we can be more consistent."
The Bison will look to letterwinners Corey Maines and Kerry Maines as the first two singles players. After the first two slots, Lytle says the lineup will most likely change as the season goes on and will be a lot of moving around.
Ben Panebianco, Connor Renaud and Chase Wise all return as letterwinners to the team and should find spots in both singles and doubles action.
"It's safe to say we'll have Corey and Kerry Maines as the first two," said Lytle. "After that, it's a blank slate. Those two boys push each other all the time. They'll continue to get better. I think they are two very solid one and twos right now."
"The thing that we'll be looking at this year is experience. As an overall team, I'd like to think we'll have some depth that will give us some chances in some of the matches."
"I am encouraged. I think we have some guys that really enjoy the sport and some guys who really have some skill and potential. There's some good combinations there. We just have to get it all to unfold successfully."
The Bison open their season on Monday at Central Mountain. The match is scheduled to start at 3:45 p.m.
Roster - Seniors
Patrick Barnes, Johnathan Bumbarger, Jason Kunkle.
Aaron Angstadt, *Corey Maines, Erik Neville, *Ben Panebianco, *Connor Renaud, Wyatt Stucke, *Chase Wise.
Isaiah Cutler, Anthony Grenus, *Kerry Maines, Joe Schultz.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
Schedule - March
25-at Central Mountain, 3:45 p.m.
2-Elk County Catholic; 3-Tyrone; 4-at Juniata, 4 p.m.; 8-at St. Marys; 10-Huntingdon; 11-Warren; 15-at Elk County Catholic; 18-Juniata; 19-St. Marys; 23-at Tyrone; 24-at Punxsutawney; 30-at Huntingdon, 3:15 p.m.
All matches start at 3:30 p.m. unless noted.