By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
The Joplin High School boys tennis team launches a “very challenging” schedule this week.
Joplin coach Sean McWilliams believes the Eagles can meet the challenge.
“We have high expectations,” McWilliams said Saturday. “We know we have to work hard each day to meet those expectations.
“We have quite a bit of experience,” McWilliams said. “Even the sophomores in our top six are experienced. We have depth out of our 5, 6 players.
“It’s a fun group to coach,” McWilliams said. “These guys worked hard in the off-season. They’ve worked hard for several years.
“We’re playing a very challenging schedule,” McWilliams said. “The first week will be tough. The first week also will be important. We’ll know more about ourselves after the first week.”
The Eagles open against Thomas Jefferson at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Joplin Athletic Complex. The Eagles will host their six-team tournament on Wednesday starting at 9 a.m. at the JAC. Springfield Glendale visits for a 4 p.m. dual on Thursday.
“Thomas Jefferson is improved,” McWilliams said. “In our tournament, we’re in a pool with the Jenks (Okla.) junior varsity and North Kansas City. The Jenks varsity — Jenks has perhaps the second-best team in Oklahoma — Springfield Central and Thomas Jefferson is in the other pool. Glendale — we tied the Falcons for the Ozark Conference title last season — is very good with several returning players. Central was runner-up (to Joplin) in district last season.”
The championship match between pool winners likely will start between 3 p.m. and 4, McWilliams said.
Jeremy Lynn, a senior who’s signed with Minnesota, heads the singles ladder, McWilliams said. Lynn finished as the Ozark Conference and district champion last season and was fifth in Class 2.
Juniors Luke Frogge and Edran Ali are 2-3 in singles and pooled their talents in 2012 to qualify for state in doubles.
Brooks Butler, a junior, and sophomores Samuel Willcoxon and Duncan Ford complete the top six in singles.
Rounding out a top 12 in singles are senior Josh Manning, senior Nick Duke, junior Eli Obert, senior Chase Peterson, senior Kyle Dillon and sophomore Colton Hill.
McWilliams, who’s in his 12th season at Joplin, is assisted by Thomas MacQueeney and Larry McGregor.
McWilliams needs their assistance, too, as there are 19 more players working out.
They are senior Gabe Sachetta; juniors Sean Casey and Collin Shipley; sophomores Omar Ahmed, Joseph Blank, Ethan Crider, Jonah Ellman, Blake Hunter, Jaxon Meeredith and Micah Mense, and freshmen Noah Chotrow, Nathan Finnell, Alex Garton, Robert Howard, Patrick Kensington, Maverick Mai, Rusty Phillips, Luke Sachetta and Jason Studebaker.