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Mehlville High boys' tennis team's experience should play big role in '04 season, coach says

With a talented group of seniors returning for the 2004 season, the boys' tennis team at Mehlville Senior High School is looking to surprise a few opponents this season.

"With the experience we have, I hope that it plays a big role in this year's season," Panthers head coach Bill Ebert told the Call.

"I'm really excited about the season. I think we'll fare a little bit better than we did last year."

The Panthers return five seniors with Shane McCracken again taking the No. 1 singles slot for the fourth straight year.

"Shane's been our No. 1 for the last four years," Ebert explained. "He was one of the top three players in the district a couple of years ago and we're hoping that this year will be his year."

At No. 2, singles for Mehlville will be senior Matt Banker, who is returning for his third season on the varsity squad.

"Matt's been a real solid player for the past three years," Ebert said. "We're also hoping for some good things from him this year."

Senior Adam Paulitsch will serve as the team's No. 3 singles player after playing primarily at doubles last season.

"Last season he played doubles, so singles will be a new experience for him," Ebert said. "But I think that the transition will be somewhat smooth for him."

Two other seniors who should make a significant impact on this year's squad are Andy Kaiser and Andy Vaughan.

"I think that they're playing well," Ebert said. "I don't know where they'll play, but they'll most likely be in the mix for the top doubles team."

Yet one of the surprises this season for the Panthers is freshman Taylor Zak who appears to be making a strong bid for the No. 4 singles slot.

"Taylor's making some good headway into No. 4 singles," Ebert said. "I think that he could also play on our top doubles team."

The Panthers will be in action Wednesday, March 24, as they take on Vianney at St. Louis Community College-Meramec.

"Vianney's got some experienced players and I expect a pretty close match," Ebert said.

"But once April comes around, the conference schedule starts and it's not going to get any easier than that."

The Panthers' match against Vianney is slated for a 3:30 p.m. start.

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