Park Hill South lost two of the top players in its lineup but has plenty back, including a surprising qualifier to Class 2 sectional play.
With standout and 2015 state qualifier JD Nassab gone from the No. 1 spot, Joe Badalucco, Jason Jeong, Andrew Robaska and Andrew Beldo will be left to create the new pecking order. Badalucco even finished as Class 2 District 16 runner-up a year ago, losing to Nassab in the title match. Both came up just one win shy of state.
The early part of the season includes the normal questions for a perennial contender.
“We’ve got a really young group of about 14 kids that this is their first time out so they’re starting at zero and their growth is obviously very quick,” Park Hill South coach Ian Cunliff said. “The ones who are returning are doing good; they’re catching up and knocking the rust off.”
Park Hill South went 10-7 a year ago, losing 5-3 in the Class 2 District 15 team championship match to rival Park Hill.
Nassab provided a steady force at the top of the lineup after earning all-state honors in doubles as a junior in 2015. Nick Classen played as Nassab’s doubles partner in 2016 to make a No. 1 duo of seniors.
Cunliff also expects Brandon Crabtree to see more varsity time this season.