From season to season, high school sports teams go through changes. The Milton High boys tennis team is no different.
The Red Hawks lost two singles and four doubles players after last season, but return a lot of potential and also their former head coach Rob Boden, who coached the team for seven seasons before last year, this season. Boden and Heather Slosarek, who filled in as head coach last season, will be co-head coaches this year.
“It has been enjoyable to be back and it’s nice to split time as a head coach,” Boden said. “I’m looking forward to the season, we have a really nice group of guys.”
Other changes will include moving No. 2 doubles player Sean Grote to singles and moving No. 3 singles player Eric Berthiaume to doubles. Despite all of the changes, both coaches said they see some potential in this year’s team after finishing 4-6 last season in dual meets.
Nobody from MHS qualified for the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament last year, but Milton did send seven athletes to the sectional tournament, including returning players Ken Yap (No. 1 singles), Eric Grote (No. 1 doubles) and Sean Grote (No. 2 doubles).
Eric Berthiaume, who played at No. 3 singles much of last season, will most likely play No. 1 doubles with Eric Grote this season. Slosarek said that pair, along with Yap and Sean Grote, have the potential to qualify for state this season.
“The seniors (this season) were biting at those varsity spots at the beginning of last year,” Slosarek said. “It’s great that they get the opportunity to step up. They all get along so they work well and communicate well on the court, which is something that is good to not have to teach.”
Both coaches agreed that the co-head coach situation will work out great this season as either coach, if needed, can come late or leave early.
“I think it’s going to be great for the players to be able to get that dual coaching as well,” Slosarek said. “… We can work with more individual players more often too when we’re both there.”
One strength the Red Hawks will have this season is experience as many starters are expected to be upperclassmen.
“There are a lot of seniors we have in our lineup,” Boden said. “… I think are our singles lineup is really strong … We’re really deep, shoving guys onto JV that could have played varsity in the past.”
“A lot of the players were playing over the winter and offseason,” Slosarek said. “We have a lot of seniors who have been very dedicated from taking summer school tennis in seventh and eighth grade all the way through. It’s nice to see where they’ve grown.”
Boden said he expects the team, in spite of tough competition, to finish in the top half of the conference. Slosarek added that they’re happy to see such a full team this year as guys who have not gone out for tennis in the past have come out this season.
The Red Hawks first dual meet is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Reedsburg.