The Woodward Academy boys’ tennis team is in this situation but is still in position to do something special this season.
Of the seven departed seniors, only Eric Zschunke, Wes McDonald, Shawn Lobel and Elam Jones were major contributors.
“Zschunke will be hard to replace at the No. 2 singles spot,” said Woodward tennis coach Sam Mugavero, who was leaning towards placing junior Eric Pinckney in that slot during the interview.
Along with the team’s youth being an issue, Mugavero believes his biggest challenge will be replacing McDonald, Lobel and Jones at the doubles spots.
“The challenge will be finding those doubles teams,” Mugavero said. “Those pairings that are going to win us matches consistently. Finding that team chemistry that is really going to make or break us this year.
“If we can find the four guys, the two pairs of doubles that can play together and win matches, we’re going to be fine,” he said. “But if we don’t we’re going to be hurting and losing a lot of close matches.”
However, the No. 1 singles spot is the one position Mugavero isn’t stressed over since junior Andy Martinez, who went 20-0 at the singles spot last season, is still on the roster.
“Having [Andy] back and winning matches is going to be really important,” Mugavero said.
Pinckney’s play will be just as critical.
“Eric played so strong last year that I’m expecting a whole lot from him as well if we’re going to go for three [state titles] in a row,” Mugavero said.
Similar to last year with then-freshmen Michael Malina and Nick Wilson, the War Eagles should have a few more young but impactful additions in sophomore Brett Schwartz and freshmen Walker Robitscher and Cole Ritchey.
“We picked up some pretty strong first-year varsity players this year so I think we will be able to replace who we lost with a pretty big deal of strength,” Mugavero said. “I like our team about as much as I liked it last year. I think we will be okay.”
Malina (St. Pius) and Wilson both transferred.
Woodward’s two lone seniors, David Alexander and Nevin Yadav, will be expected to con-tribute in doubles competition and help the younger guys adjust to varsity.