Skyline boys tennis in rebuilding mode this season

Nicholas Schwenker Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Skyline’s boys tennis team is growing in numbers week to week.

The Hawks had only four players come out for the team last week, but earlier this week they had seven on the team. Skyline boys tennis coach Josh Brown said they may have one or two more join the team in the next week.

“It’s a rebuilding year,” Brown said before Wednesday’s practice. “I’ve spent most of the time just trying to recruit more guys to actually come out and play for the team. A lot of them are getting used to what tennis is. Some of them have never played before. So I’m spending a lot of time just teaching the basics of the game.”

The team has two players returning from last year’s squad — junior Nicholas Schwenker and senior Isaiah Henry. Junior Steven Dane has returned to the team after not playing last season.

Brown said those returning will play an important role on the team.

Luca Piancastellli Rich Cooley/Daily

“They know more of what to expect,” Brown said. “They’re better conditioned to what its like to be on a winning team and to progress into postseason-like situations. For the new guys, they are extremely new to it. And they have to learn basics of the game, what lines are in and what lines are out. We’re having to start from scratch.”

Schwenker, who played at No. 6 singles last year, said that he believes the players are progressing nicely in the first couple weeks.

“It’s going pretty well,” Schwenker said. “We’ve got some strong players playing. We got some new people and everyone’s improving really quickly throughout the beginning of the season.”

Last year was the first year on the team for Schwenker and he said he really enjoyed it.

“It was good because I learned from my mistakes a lot since it was my first year playing,” Schwenker said. “At six (singles), I went against a lot of good players, so I was able to learn from how they were playing and I improved my skills based off of that.”

Haakon Lerwick Rich Cooley/Daily

One big loss from last year’s team is Matias Lozano, who was an exchange student from Chile. Lozano played at No. 1 singles and advanced to the Conference 28 tournament individual singles semifinals.

Brown said is hoping he has some more luck with an exchange student this season. Luca Piancastelli, an exchange student from Brazil, is on this year’s tennis team.

Piancastelli said he hasn’t played tennis for a number of years, but did play for a couple of years in Brazil.

“I’ve probably lost most of my skill,” Piancastelli said with a smile. “I like tennis. I like the mobility of the sport. You’re never really completely stopped in tennis.”

The mobility of the sport was one reason senior Haakon Lerwick decided to give it a try.

Lerwick said he had never played before, but he was enjoying it in his first few days with the team.

“I just wanted to get a little more active, get in a little bit better shape,” Lerwick said.

The Hawks finished 6-11 last season, but Brown said he’s not worried about Skyline’s record this season. He said he wants the players to have fun and hopefully help build the program for future years.

“I’m just hoping for the most part that the three returning guys continue the progress from the previous years,” Brown said. “But mostly that the new guys can start the next generation, so to speak, for the team to build off of. And if they can get some wins along the way then that’s great. But mostly it’s trying to get some kids excited about tennis. …I would like to get more kids to come out for the boys tennis team – that’s my main goal for this year.”