Panthers tennis team continues to rebuild

Young team looking to gain experience and improve

Rory Walker returns the ball during the Panther tennis practice. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Rory Walker returns the ball during the Panther tennis practice.

Last season, the Montezuma-Cortez High School tennis team won a few matches and remained competitive. After losing six seniors to graduation however, the Panthers enter this year in complete rebuilding mode.

Leading M-CHS this year will be head coach Trena Walker. Last year’s head coach, Dan Wood, will serve as an assistant.

“It’s going to be a tough year, honestly,” said Walker. “There are kids that haven’t played and their skill level is pretty low. Our goal is to get their skill level up.”

Slated to compete at No. 1 singles this season is junior Cody Canzona, who alternated between No. 2 and No. 3 doubles last season. Discussing his goals for the upcoming year, Canzona was frank, saying that it will be difficult for him to win on a consistent basis.

“I’m excited, but scared,” said the junior. “My goal is to win a match this year. I know the competition at No. 1 singles will be tough.”

Taking over the No. 2 singles spot for the Panthers will be senior Sam Berrada, the only player on the M-CHS team with singles experience.

“My goal is to lead by example and not lose every match,” explained Berrada.

Playing No. 3 singles for the Panthers this season will be freshman Rory Walker, while senior Xavier Eddy and junior Jace Mueller will compete at No. 1 doubles.

“(Walker) is one of the better athletes on the team, and he’s 14-years old,” said Wood. “In my estimation, he’ll be in good shape to qualify for state in a couple fo years.

Senior Zach Lampson and junior Grant Gassoway will compete at No. 2 doubles. Sophomore Rowdy Veach and sophomore Keelyn Chandler will compete at No. 3 doubles. Spots on the No. 4 doubles team are still up for grabs.

“This is one of those preparation years,” said Wood. “We’ve got some strong young athletes.”

The Panthers will open their season with a road matchup against Fruita (Aug. 29) and a road matchup against Montrose (Aug. 30).