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Southmoreland retains high standards with different cast

| Saturday, March 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Luke Zeleznik will be featured as the first singles player for the Southmoreland tennis team.

With three section titles in the past three seasons, the Southmoreland boys tennis team is entering the 2014 campaign with plenty of confidence.

This, despite the fact that the Scotties are dealing with several big losses.

“The first thing will be to fill the first two spots,” Southmoreland coach Jim Kessler said.

“We lost our one and two players, but it's not a rebuilding year because we have strong depth on this team.”

Tyler Fox and Kevin Bundridge were the top two singles players who were instrumental in helping the Scotties win their third straight Section 1-AA crown. However, both players have graduated.

“Losing those guys will be a big challenge,” Kessler said, also noting that doubles player Shawn Potter also graduated. “Guys will have to step up.”

Leading off the Southmoreland lineup will be senior Luke Zeleznik.

He will fill the first singles position after playing at third singles last year.

Senior Davis Simon will be making the jump from first doubles to second singles, while junior Henry Riley will move up from second doubles to third singles.

Senior Adam Hernley was a regular at first doubles in 2013 and will be called upon again to fill one of the spots on the top doubles team.

Junior Brock Grabiak likely is a candidate to round out first doubles. The second doubles pairing could regularly feature juniors Adam Snyder and Isaac Proch.

“We've always had a lot of good players, so with the guys moving up, we should be OK” Kessler said.

With many players adjusting to new positions in the lineup, Kessler understands that there may be a few growing pains. Still, he is looking forward to seeing what this year's team is capable of accomplishing.

“I lost kids I had been with for three years, and that's a challenge for me,” Kessler said.

“But I'm excited about the challenge of a whole new lineup.”

Kessler noted that although some of the faces have changed, the dedication shown by the players on the team remains the same.

“Guys are still going down after practice and playing at Loucks Park,” Kessler said.

“There is still that enthusiasm to play.”

The Scotties have compiled a 43-3 record in section play the past three seasons, so the standards are high. However, Zeleznik said he believes his teammates are looking forward to living up to those high standards.

“I think it's fun to try to continue that,” Zeleznik said. “We've won a lot of section matches, and we want to keep that up.”

Zeleznik knows that continued success won't be easy.

“I think we all need to step up,” Zeleznik said. “A lot of the younger guys have gotten better, and I think we will do well if we all step up and do our part.”

Kessler said he believes his players will step up and isn't selling them short on their chances of making it four titles in a row.

“I tell them that we're going for our fourth section title,” Kessler said. “That's what we are aiming for.”

Jason Black is the local Sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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