New-look Skyline boys to defend state boys tennis title
May 09, 2018 02:31PM
By Josh McFadden
The Skyline boys tennis team won the Class 4A state title last season in dominant fashion. This season, the team replaces most of its varsity squad. (Photo/Melody McNamee)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
A year after winning the Class 4A state boys tennis championship, the Skyline Eagles have plenty of new faces on the 2018 edition.
But this doesn’t mean the team isn’t eager to show what it’s got.
Head coach Lani Wilcox is rebuilding this season’s team, which now competes in what she calls a “loaded” Class 5A. The Eagles must replace five of their seven varsity players.
“This season is going to be a tough one,” she said. “It’s going to be unbelievable to see how it turns out. We’re going to just hammer away and keep rebuilding. It’s fun to get better; it’s a nice byproduct of winning state.”
Last season, all three of Skyline’s singles players won state in their individual brackets. Standout Connor Robb-Wilcox a sophomore and the coach’s son, was one of those champions. He’s back to lead the way for the Eagles. Adrian Wilde takes the second singles spot, and Brady Smith will hold down third singles.
Wilcox said it’s been a tight race to see who emerges as the starters on the doubles teams. She likes the potential of first doubles players Jake Smith and Gabe Smith as well as second doubles competitors Will Kendall and Hayden Carter. Wilcox calls Kendall, just a freshman, “an athletic kid.” He’s also a competitive skier.
“It’s going to be a fun chess game to get the doubles teams picked,” Wilcox said. “It’ll be interesting to see how they do under pressure.”
Other teams will be aiming to taking the Eagles down. Plus, with some youth and inexperience, Wilcox knows her team will face stiff competition each match. But rather than feel anxiety for what lies ahead, she’s looking forward to watching newcomers get better. Ultimately, she wants her squad to enjoy each match and each practice.
“My No. 1 thing is I want the boys to have fun,” she said. “I base my practices around learning and getting better, but I want them to have fun. My job this year is to teach them how to deal with adversity and pressure — tennis is so mental. But it will be fun to see them come together and represent their school.”
Skyline plays five region matches this season. The top four players at every position will qualify for state.
“I’d like the kids to have confidence,” Wilcox said. “If we can qualify all five (positions), it would be amazing.”
The Eagles wrap up the regular season the first part of May. The 5A state tournament is slated for May 18–19 at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.