Wolves see net improvement

Todd Olson expects to win. But then, that’s nothing new.

“As usual, my expectations are pretty high,” the South Kitsap High tennis coach said during practice this week.

And they should be. The Wolves enter the 2005 boy’s tennis season on the heels of the school’s best-ever year. A year that saw Stephanie Davison win the girls Class 4A singles title and the boys doubles’ tandem of Elliott Hulscher and Adam Bennett qualify for the state tournament.

Success breeds success, and Olson says it has been showing since the first day of practice last month.

“I think it always helps when out sports programs, guys and girls, perform well at state,” Olson said. “It sparks the interest of the kids and you seem to get more of those athlete-type players out here that compete every day.”

Olson has seen a couple of players cross over from their normal sports to give tennis a try this year. Senior Garrett Lyman wrestled last year for the Wolves while Haakon Ganges and Tyler Penn both played soccer as juniors.

“They are all definitely athletes who sparked an interest and came out,” Olson said. “We’re up a little bit number-wise, and they’re not just people coming out here to have fun. They really want to compete and that’s always good. Every practice is really tough competition and it’s always nice to see that.”

Those three have added much needed depth to an already strong program — one that senior Andy Hultz is ready to help take to the next level.

Hultz returns for his final year and will be a very strong No. 1 singles player for the Wolves.

“I expect Andy to go a lot farther than he did last year,” Olson said. “He had a disappointing year last year.”

Hultz’s season ended at the Narrows League Tournament, far short of an expected trip to the West Central District and state tournaments. But Olson sees that changing this year.

“He’s come in this season looking really sharp and on his game,” Olson said. “He’s been playing really well and playing a lot of tournaments in the offseason.”

Hultz placed second at a Gig Harbor tournament just two weeks ago and is already looking sharp, especially his service game.

“This is his senior year, so we’re looking to get the most out of the year,” Olson said. "I expect us to be right in there, towards the top. It’s all going to depend on our doubles, however.”

With Hultz anchoring the Wolves singles lineup and senior transfer Jeff Thirot shuring up the No. 2 spot, the Wolves will look to its doubles teams to pick up the slack.

The big question is who’s going to step up and perform well at No.1?

The answer looks to come from youngsters Kramer Mott and Artie Carson, who will be counted on heavily this year at No. 1 doubles.

“They played a lot over the summer and took lessons,” Olson said. “They were out here every day so their games have definitely improved.”

Doubles play has always been the key to South’s tennis success and this year the No. 2 and No. 3 teams may be strong enough to get the Wolves over the top.

Gangnes will pair with fellow senior Derrick Perkins as the No. 2 doubles team while sophomore Michael Wass and senior Garrett Lyman will go at No. 3.

“(Perkins and Gangnes) are playing really well for a No. 2 team,” Olson said. “And (Wass and Lyman) are going to be really strong. They will give our No. 2 team a run for their money.

“We’re definitely going to be strong,” Olson said. “I’m leery about our (No. 1 doubles) team stepping up this year, but I think with the work and stuff we put in, and their heart into the game, we should be able to step up. As of right now, we’re really strong at two and three. It should be a good year.”

Looking at the schedule, Olson said Central Kitsap, Bremerton and Olympic will pose the biggest challenges to his team in the Narrows League Bridge Division while Bellarmine and Olympia are the class of the Bay Division.

“Bellarmine is going to be really, really tough this year,” Olson said. “Last year we had a shot at them, we lost 2-3, but they are going to be really tough this year.

“I think we’ll be right in the thick of things again, just like last year,” Olson said. “Hopefully, get three and three in. That’s always my goal — to get as many guys as I can into the postseason.”

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