Boys Tennis: Hubs ready for another run at conference title

Senior John Green will be one of multiple starters returning for the Rochelle Hub varsity tennis team this season. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle returning several varsity starters from last season

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity tennis team nearly achieved a historic feat last season, falling a few points short of securing their first conference championship since 1949. With several varsity starters returning this season, head coach Kristy Eckardt said the team’s goals and expectations remain the same as the Hubs shoot for another successful season.

“We’re really excited to be back and the kids can’t wait to be back on the courts,” Eckardt said. “I think we’re capable of doing really great things this season and we have 26 kids out for tennis this season, which is a record by far. I’m excited that we have a lot of new players to balance out some of our veteran players… The kids want to try and win the conference again and I know several of the kids have their eyes set on the state tournament. I think those are two goals that are achievable for us and I think those are goals that our kids should be striving for.” 

Monday marked the beginning of the tennis season, with the Hubs scheduled to compete in the Rock Island Invitational on Saturday, March 25. Among the notable returning players for the Hubs are seniors David Wanner and Owen Haas, who won the Interstate 8 Conference title at No. 1 doubles last season. Seniors Nolan Fonfara and John Green are also back in the fold.

“David and Owen had an outstanding season last spring and I think they’ll be even better this year,” Eckardt said. “John and Nolan were both solid in our doubles lineup last year and I think they’ll be staples there again this year. We have some singles slots to fill and I’m interested to see who earns those slots… It’ll be a matter of getting out on the courts when the weather’s nice and trying out some different combinations so we have an idea of where the kids fit best.”

Junior Jimmy Chavez highlights a group of returning players who could earn varsity singles roles for the Hubs this season. Rochelle will hold its first home match of the season against Rockford East on Monday, March 27. The Hubs will then face LaSalle-Peru on the road Tuesday, March 28 for their first Interstate 8 Conference matchup of the season. 

“Learning the game and having fun will be important for our younger players,” Eckardt said. “The kids became more confident last season and we played a lot of close matches. They weren’t afraid to step up and play their best when the occasion called for it and I think they became much more excited about tennis. Maintaining that mentality will be a huge asset for us.”