STORM LAKE - The potential of winning a Lakes Conference title is definitely in the scheme of things for the Storm Lake boys tennis team this spring.
The Tornadoes return five starters from a team that finished 5-6 a year ago. The only starter lost was Kurt Havens, who played at No. 1 singles last season.
Five letterwinners return, including No. 2 player Adam Woodle, No. 3 player Arick Loew, No. 4 player Kris Hoeppner, No. 5 player Greg Hegarty and No. 6 player Dan Lickteig.
They will all move up a spot in the lineup this season. Tyler Page, the top junior varsity player last year, will inherit the No. 6 position in the varsity lineup. All are seniors.
"These guys are going to have to carry the load," Storm Lake coach Ron Netten said. "We're looking for good senior leadership, and hopefully, experience will be our strength. This will be Adam's third year of playing, but he'll be running up against some tough competition."
Netten characterized the personnel of this year's team.
"We should be a pretty good balanced team," he said. "We're going to be very competitive. I don't think we'll dominate. I'm looking for a shot at the title. We certainly have the capability."
All indications in the preseason point to a good chance of that happening.
"We're working hard and we're enthused," Netten said. "We have some good new blood coming in with some freshmen kids. They will do some pushing for some varsity spots."
Netten measured the strength that all six top players share.
"They just have good overall games," he said. "They can play with some good intelligence and they're good strategy players. That's their strengths. They're generally mentally tough. We have some kids who are good in that area. What they lack in raw talent they make up in those skills."
Storm Lake's success will also depend on some other intangibles.
"We're going to have to work hard," Netten said. "They're a pretty cohesive group and support each other well. The doubles combinations are going to make a big difference. We'll be experimenting with that at the beginning of the season. Doubles will probably be our best shot at getting somebody to state."
Netten has some concerns heading into the new season.
"Just keeping our focus and attention to tennis," he said. "It's an emotional game, so we can't get discouraged and we have to keep our play in perspective. We have to capitalize on momentum swings and know how to turn those around. Maintaining our composure during the ebb and flow of a match will be important for us also."