Miners tennis squad eager to show what its made of

Park City High School tennis player Kaj Christensen returns a volley during a practice at the Park City Municipal Athletic Recreation Center last year. He is a key returner for this year’s squad, which has high aspirations as the season begins.
Park Record file photo

Park City High School’s boys tennis season is swinging into gear, and the Miners have a blend of familiar faces and new names. Park City is coming off a fifth-place finish at the state championships last year, and coach Justin DeLong thinks his team can surprise those who might overlook the Miners.

“I think that we have a really strong team, actually, and we’ve got a team that could really make a run at state,” DeLong said. “I think my singles guys will have a shot to make it into the last couple rounds at state.”

Park City returns two singles players and junior Kaj Christensen, who played on the Miners’ first doubles team, from last year’s state championships. Spots in both the singles and doubles lineups are up for grabs, as DeLong said he hasn’t decided on a lineup yet and is trying to figure out who plays well with whom.

Junior Dominic Jamrich played second singles last year and made it to the second round in the state championships before getting bounced. Park City’s roster is composed of almost entirely underclassmen, and Jamrich likes seeing some new faces on the team.

“It’s a welcome sight, I think it helps to change up the strategy,” Jamrich said. “(I’m going to) play the hardest I can, just leave it all out on the court.”

Jamrich said he played a lot over the summer, and DeLong believes he’s capable of taking the next step. DeLong said that Jamrich is capable of knocking off some of the top players in the state when he’s at his best.

“I think that he’s a smarter player than he was in past years, already I can tell that he’s worked on his game a lot over the last year,” DeLong said. “To win against some of those top players, he’d have to play some of the best tennis of his life di lui. But, he has the weapons, he just has to be ready to use them on the right day. “

Junior Coen Woolley made it to the semifinals of the third singles bracket last year, and he’ll play a significant role for the Miners as well once he returns from injury. DeLong liked what he saw from the southpaw towards the end of last season. Woolley is also serving as the team’s captain.

“He has really shown me that he has the right head on his shoulders to be a smart tennis player and to make the right decisions during the season to be playing his best, so I don’t expect anything less than intense practice sessions and really getting after it when he gets back onto the court in a few weeks, ”DeLong said. “I always love my lefty guys. … Coen’s a left-hander, and it’s a weapon in tennis, so I want him to get back out there and fight for that top spot. “

Christensen is looking like he’ll factor into how the Miners line up for singles as well. DeLong said that he has more raw talent than most junior players he’s coached. Christensen played singles in Saturday’s loss to Ridgeline, but Park City was missing multiple players.

“We have three solid singles, and so if we could just win all three of those, then we don’t have to rely on doubles as much,” Christensen said. “I’m not nervous at all anymore, so it’s more fun (being one of the older guys).”

DeLong is also thinking that freshman Justus Backpack could be a factor for the Miners this year and added that junior Henry Retzer has been the most improved player on the team so far. The coach has appreciated the efforts of both the varsity and the JV teams, and it seems that the program is in a good spot heading into the season.

“I’m so happy to have the 18 guys I got,” he said. “We’ve been doing a few practices a week, and the JV guys have been showing up and giving it a great attitude and sometimes it’s tough when you’re not necessarily in the running for the varsity spots. But, I’m loving the attitude of all my guys, and I’m pumped for the season. “

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