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The M-A boys varsity tennis team anticipates a successful 2016 season, bolstered by a strong starting lineup that has remained mostly intact from last year. The co-captains, consisting of all the returning seniors, are excited to return to the courts for yet another great year for the program. The team expects to expand its 10-year winning streak at the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) tournament.

The 24-man squad is looking beyond the PAL and is setting its sights on winning the Central Coast Section (CCS) championship. Senior singles player Reed Fratt believes this will be possible due to a great rapport between the varsity players. “Our doubles teams work together to try to improve with each other. Our singles core always works hard to try to improve each other as well.” Senior Noah Milman added that “this year’s team is closer than ever, and we look forward to spending more time with each other both on and off the court.”

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Junior Casey Morris agreed that the support the players have for one another is an important aspect of the game. Despite tennis’s reputation as being an individual sport, he loves receiving encouragement from his teammates from the side of the court and says this has made a huge impact on his overall tennis experience. “I am most excited for our team trip to Fresno. We all stay at a hotel and all get dinner together. And we play various other teams in California. So that’s a pretty fun team building experience.”

Tom Sorenson, who has been coaching the Bears since 2002, also praised the work ethic and dedication of the squad. “We have the strongest team we’ve had in many years. Our team, perhaps more than any I’ve been associated with, has players who are very accountable for their own performances, their own efforts. They’re not players who have to be cajoled or coached incessantly. It’s rare to have a whole team built of personalities like that…great camaraderie, great cohesiveness.”

On the topic of league rivals, Sorenson noted that “you actually have to have a team that you might lose to, to consider them a rival, and in the PAL we have no such team.” Most players consider Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School to be the team’s closest rivalries.DSCF2254

According to Sorenson, some notable players to watch for this year include upperclassmen Fratt, Morris, Eric Laderman, Nishant Relan, Milman, and Camillo Saueressig, and freshmen Timmy Berthier and Zack Ostrow.

Laderman and his partner, Relan, weighed in on the trust, confidence, and friendship it takes to make an effective doubles team. “We don’t like each other, to be quite frank,” Laderman joked. “We don’t have to talk anymore, I’m so used to playing with him.”

Relan mentioned, “This has and always will be a thing. We love to improve our doubles playing.” Relan went on to describe how the adaptability of the team has helped lead to the program’s success. “What’s really nice about this team is that we are so flexible within singles and doubles, everyone can play everything. I think that we have a good, versatile, and extremely deep lineup this year.”

DSCF2259 (1)“I also heard we’re going to have great snacks this year,” added Laderman. Relan guaranteed that, with his mother in charge of the food, the team would have “the best snacks in M-A Tennis history.”

Fratt explained the importance of drive: “I see a lot of competitiveness in all of the guys and everyone here really wants to win the CCS Championship. We have a lot of seniors where this will be their last season ever playing competitive tennis. That’s where we want to finish up [with a CCS Championship].”

A new addition — or rather re-addition to the team — is former varsity player Zach Novak, who has returned to M-A in his gap year to be the JV coach. “It’s already been such a good time with him out there,” said Relan. “He’s been fantastic, providing laughs, support, and everything. He knows the doubles game so well.”

Talented and dedicated players and coaches, new and old, are looking forward to a great season of development, camaraderie, and fun — and hopefully a trophy or two along the way.

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