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The Sterling High School team tennis squad returns this fall aiming to defend its district title. Top row, from left, are Dave Daymiel, Seth Dickens, Steven Mauro, Matthew Ward, Graceann Carsey, Ryan Jones, Bryce Stork, Brian Ward and Cameron Pequeno. Bottom row, from left, are Lauren Perry, Sakshi Singh, Caroline Wells, Crystal Smith, Abigail Vincent, Alaina Hafer and Priya Desai.

Coming off a milestone season, the Sterling team tennis squad enters the fall with a new status: Defending champions.

Last year, the Rangers captured the District 21-6A title, finishing off the year with a 7-0 record and 13-6 overall.

They followed that up with a bi-district win over Summer Creek (10-0) before being eliminated in the area round by Clear Creek.

Now sixth-year head coach John Tremmel returns to the courts with a half-dozen boys and girls back with valuable experience.

Sterling opens the season Friday at Klein Cain at 8:30 a.m. and then will play at Klein Oak Forest afterward.

Senior Ryan Jones played No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles a year ago and he returns with junior Steven Mauro (No. 5 singles and mixed doubles) and Matthew Ward (No. 6 singles, No. 3 doubles) who are expected to lead the way.

“These three boys should bring some much needed experience at the top of line up this fall,” Tremmel said.

Sophomores Brian Ward, Cameron Pequeno and Bryce Stork, and freshman Dave Daymiel are being looked at to step up.

“With our combination of talent, experience, and dedication the boys should fare well this fall,” Tremmel said.

“We have three boys and three girls fighting for their first spot on the varsity top squad,” Tremmel said. “This will be the first time to see how they compete in the top spots. They all had fantastic freshman seasons, no telling where they will go this fall. I’m excited to see them get their chance.”

Daymiel comes in highly touted after playing in a number of US Tennis Association level events over the years and is expected to play doubles with Jones.

Senior Graceanne Carsey (No. 3 singles, No. 1 doubles), junior Abigail Vincent (No. 4 singles, No. 1 doubles) and senior Priya Desai (No. 2 doubles) are the veterans on the girls side.

“The girls are doing pretty good; we have a good lineup,” Carsey said. “Our younger girls have had a lot of experience. We’re super competitive. We just like to win.”

Senior Alaina Hafer, and sophomores Caroline Wells, Crystal Smith, and Sakshi Singh are noted for their competitiveness and versatility.

Freshman Lauren Perry will round out the top eight.

There should be enough talent to offset the loss of three boys and four of the top six girls from a year ago.

It should be easier with a strong sophomore class on board.

Jones enjoys the team tennis aspect more than the spring, individual season. Especially with the need to play both singles and doubles.

“Depending on the weather, I do enjoy playing both, and I get more tennis in,” Jones, who played doubles in the spring, said. “Coming into this year knowing I would be top singles motivated me to get out and play more. I was playing No. 3 or No. 4 depending on which match. That’s a big jump. I am going to be now playing super champs and the big boys.”

Doubles will be key as Tremmel expects a learning curve with those teams.

“With having many young players stepping up this year, we will have to grow up on the doubles court very quickly,” Tremmel said. “I’m certain they will.”

Overall, Tremmel sees this new look squad able to bring plenty of positive results.

“It’ll definitely be a different looking squad,” Tremmel said. “Even though we are young, this is one of the hardest working teams I’ve seen in years. The amount of time they put in this summer exceeded my expectations. They are true team, cohesive, and committed. They will be ready.”

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