The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys tennis team finished third in the Metro Suburban Conference en route to a 13-13 record overall.
In the short view, the Bulldogs offered a picture of mediocrity.
Head coach Brennan Denny believes RBHS is capable of breaking .500 this season based on the amount of returning talented players this spring.
Senior Frank Filec is back as one of the Bulldogs’ best doubles players. He paired with with Ben Pollock (graduated) last season. This year, Filec and senior transfer student James Martin comprise the Bulldogs’ No 1. Doubles team. Martin, who played golf and tennis at his previous high school in Wisconsin, was the Bulldogs’ top golfer in the fall.
“Frank and James make a nice righty-lefty, respectively, combo at No. 1 doubles,” Denny said.
Sophomore Will Dowling will primarily play at No. 1 singles.
“Will has gotten physically bigger and stronger,” Denny said. “He continues to play year-round, too, which should help develop his game.”
Several upperclassmen round out the starting lineup, including senior Brandon Winslow and Jakob Nordenstam and juniors Jason Kenny, Erik Roedel and Joey Kinnan.
“On the varsity level, we have a good balance of players who consistently started last season,” Denny noted. “Brandon and Jakob will be full-time starters this year after playing in some non-conference matches last spring.
“I feel like in the past we can get bogged down and feel sorry for ourselves if we don’t get off to a good start in matches and during tournaments. We’re looking to get off to quick starts and work on our communication and mental toughness when things aren’t going to plan.”
In his 13th year coaching tennis at RBHS, Denny believes taking on tougher competition bodes well for the Bulldogs’ future.
“A major goal for RBHS tennis is playing a higher level of competitiveness against top competition inside and outside of the conference,” Denny said. “From a team perspective, I envision a similar finish to last season.
The nonconference schedule has been bulked up with several challenging weekend tournaments.
“In terms of marquee matchups, I look towards better performance on Saturday tournaments.The District 88 Invite and Brother Rice Crusader Classic are opportunities for our kids to play some tough opponents from nonconference schools.”
Of course, weather also plays a role in terms of Chicagoland high school boys tennis. Although the Bulldogs cancelled their first four matches due to weather, enough time remains to string together matches and establish a team identity.
“I want to see kids battle and develop as competitors,” Denny said. “They also need to play smart. They need to know when to be aggressors and play offensively vs. making timely defensive shots that keep points alive.
From a team perspective, I envision a similar finish to last season. I’d like to see us genuinely challenge schools like Glenbard South and Wheaton Academy who have always been tough for us in conference.”
RBHS welcomes assistant coach Blake Shafer to the team this spring.
“Blake worked with the girls JV in the fall. He has been a great coach and example for our kids thus far each day.”