A year ago, Kokomo’s boys tennis team won its second straight sectional title, solidifying its Howard County bragging rights after Western had won the 2009 and ‘10 sectional titles.
Going into the 2013 season, Kokomo and Western are in similar positions — they return their No. 1 singles players but little else. Defending Mid-Indiana Conference champion Taylor will have a veteran player at the top of its lineup and mostly newcomers in its other spots. Eastern has the most experience of any Howard County team with four seniors and Northwestern has a blend of veterans and newcomers.
The following are capsules of all five Howard County teams.
Kokomo finished 2012 with a 15-7 record, falling to state champion Carmel in the regional.
Senior Craig Simon is back at No. 1 singles. As for the Nos. 2 and 3 singles, coach Shawn Flanary is considering senior Bryce York, junior Blake Brookshire, sophomore Jake Farkas and freshmen Grant Patterson and Conner Sanburn.
The Kats’ doubles candidates are York, Brookshire, Farkas along with seniors Erik Bowen and Brad Dockemeyer, junior Joey Hurlocker and sophomores Ben Tracy and Chris Chisser.
“We graduated so much experience,” Flanary said. “It will take time to fill into those four positions.”
Even though Flanary wants to three-peat as sectional champions, he also knows that the other county teams will be gunning for Kokomo.
“[In the sectional], Taylor returns one of the best players in the Howard County in Jack Lipchik. They will also have strength in the top of their order,” he said. “Western will also be strong. They have Judson Quinn, who won the 18-year-old [division of the] Howard County Tournament, and their other kids will be very athletic. It’s a wide-open sectional.”
Simon and Quinn had a back-and-forth match when Kokomo and Western met in a sectional semifinal last year. Simon took a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win, giving the Kats a 3-2 win.