After finishing second in the conference last year behind Hinsdale Central and taking sixth at the IHSA State Meet, LT is back again to make its presence known on the hardcourts. Beginning with senior Jordan Knue at first singles, the Lions lineup is formidable from top to bottom. Knue, who is also a co-captain this year, took third last year in doubles at the state competition. Fellow senior Grant Castle and co-captain will play first doubles with junior Andrew Shannon and will try to help LT coach Bill Wham steer the squad toward yet another remarkable spring.
“I think Jordan and Grant have continued to improve from last year and will help lead by example,” said Wham. “The other guys look up to both of them, so their leadership will help.”
The Lions will also feature junior John Smits at third singles and sophomore Dave Robare at second singles. Senior Hector Guerra will play third doubles along with senior Sean Chiricotti. Senior Slobo Jevtovic and sophomore John Mosko will play second doubles. Senior Andy Brown will play doubles with Peter Girgis and freshmen Nick Kenaga will play fourth singles. Because many of Wham’s players have played varsity tennis for two to three years, he is hopeful this will enable the Lions to make another run at the West Suburban (Silver) Conference championship.
Still, Wham knows that it is very early in the season and his team needs time. First and foremost, the Lions must adjust to the blustery conditions of playing tennis outdoors. Conditioning will also play a role, with many Saturday invitationals involving three to four matches per player. Still, Wham is afforded the luxury of eight balanced players.
“Our top eight are all pretty equal,” he said. “I don’t think there are too many teams in the area that we couldn’t beat 3-1 or 4-0 at singles, which is saying a lot. I really think we match up well in the dual meets this year. I think it will be between Oak Park, Hinsdale and us for the championship. This year our goal is to play consistent tennis.”
Right now, Wham is making sure his team keeps three goals in mind. First, he said he wants his team to improve every Saturday. Next, he is making sure his squad concentrates on conference play and then, lastly, finishing the season strongly at state. At the base of this process is a focus on fundamentals and conditioning, two factors that will take time. Wham, who is in his 14th year as head coach, knows his lineup is not set in stone and may have to do some re-adjusting early in the season.
“The past few years we have been careful to peak at the right time in order to do well at state, this is something we are trying to continue,” he said. “Part of this process is to have challenge matches and see how people perform in dual meets. We still have some question marks at doubles and we must continue to improve to do well in the conference and beyond.”