Tennis teams trying to figure out new lineups


Associate editor

When the Decatur and Jefferson boys tennis teams meet during the season, it usually has implications in deciding the league champion.

But in the second match of the season, Wednesday’s meeting was more about trying to decide the teams’ rosters.

“We’re really a green team this year,” said Decatur coach Steve Escame. “The players didn’t know who was playing at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles until I announced it — I didn’t even know who was playing at No. 2 and No. 3 until I announced it. I’ve never been in a situation where I had to look so closely to decide who will play.”

Jefferson ended up winning the match 3-2, with wins from No. 1 doubles team Cole Wilson and Konrad Miernowski, No. 2 doubles team of Paul Kunze and Todd Schultz and the No. 3 doubles team of Shane Odenwalder and Kenny Fritchy.

Ninth-grader Chris Rice at No. 1 singles and senior Brandon Abang at No. 2 singles picked up wins for Decatur.

While it was only the second match of Rice’s high school career, the Lakota Junior High student has experience playing with his older brother and sister: Jeff Rice was a 1998 state champion, and Joanna Rice was a state champ in 2001.

“It’s more competitive in high school, but it’s more fun and easygoing,” Chris Rice said. “I’m pretty much just out to have fun. But it’s a big advantage to have an older brother and sister.”

After Rice and Abang, the rest of the Decatur lineup is still in the works.

“I’m just experimenting,” Escame said. “I tell them, ‘Stay with me, work hard and by the middle of the season we’ll be able to scare anybody.’ ”

While both Decatur and Jefferson share the challenge of trying to figure out who will be playing where, the teams are different in the kind of players they have.

“We’re completely opposite teams,” Buchan said. “(Decatur has) two outstanding players (Abang and Rice) and we have no outstanding players but a lot of good players.”

Only two Jefferson players — senior Kyle Gotchy and junior Todd Schultz — have significant varsity experience.

“Everyone else is a real novice to match play, with the same amount of talent,” Buchan said.

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