As the summer begins to creep to a close, sports programs are kicking back into gear, with soccer and tennis teams being two of the most active preseason sports at the moment.
Both the Alpena tennis and boy soccer teams have a lot of returning players this year and a solid base to build on from last season.
"We have to stay healthy, that's our first goal. We ran into some problems last year with health. When all our top players were in, we were right up there with the best teams in the area," Alpena soccer coach Tim Storch said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena varsity soccer player Giulio Fantasia (red) fights for the ball against junior varsity players during a preseason practice session on Wednesday.
Storch has nine returning players, including six returning seniors and two returning juniors. Players such as seniors Eliot Zarins and Giulio Fantasia will be important leaders and younger players, such as sophomore Mitch Mead, are also likely to see a lot of playing time this year.
Storch is hoping to focus on the team's speed and experience to build a dynamic team with solid player depth across the board.
"We graduated a lot of great seniors last year, some of the top players of our team, but we have a lot of talent this year and I think we can eventually restock to where we were last year and be just as successful, if not more so," Storch said.
Alpena has a tough early schedule, hosting a quad against tough downstate teams, all of whom have been championship contenders in the past.
"I think we have the toughest schedule in all of Michigan, but experiencing that kind of unbelievable competition will force them to get better real quickly," Storch said.
The tennis team is returning 11 players from last year, including eight seniors, such as Samyak Harsh, Aaron Decare, Noah Barney-Steinke and Abram Purel. Having so many experienced seniors has its upsides and its downsides for the team.
"Players like Samyak and Noah have a lot of experience and have been playing with me since they were freshmen. Its great to have so many top skilled seniors on the team, but next year's going to be tough, as we're going to have to hope we find some talented youth players," tennis coach Charlie Giordano said.
Giordano isn't worrying too much about next year at the moment. With talented single players like Purel and the experienced player of doubles teammates Harsh and Barney-Steinke, the tennis team can expect steady success.
"I think we'll do just as good if not a bit better than last year. A lot of our top players played tennis through the summer, three going to tennis camps. I think those top, talented senior players are going to help us win some more flights against some tough teams," Giordano said.
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