Dunlap tennis begins 2012 season

Justin Miller
Andrew Jensen practices for the Eagles before the start of the 2012 season.

The Dunlap Eagles boys’ tennis team is ready to hit the court for the 2012 season with a young group and first-year boys’ coach Pat Gornik.

“The last few years, we have had a large group of seniors,” Gornik said. “It had been junior and senior dominated and it’s looking like it’s going to start to transition this year. We’re getting some younger people, which is good to compete with Morton and Metamora, which have tremendous classes of sophomores.”

Last season, the team was led by seniors Ricky Barrack, Gerardo De La Torre, Christopher Edwards, Evan Fasnacht, Taylor Jensen, Nick Kim, John McCann, Chris Maier, Samuel Park and Chase Snarr.

Gornik coached with the girls’ tennis team for the past four seasons.

“I want to bring consistency,” Gornik said. “Now that I’m here I don’t plan on going anywhere. I’ve been doing the girls’ program for four years and want to bring that energy here.”

As it sits, top 10, in order, are: seniors Jonathan Gootee, Conner Garrison, Greyson Keenan and John Collins, junior Jadin Dam, sophomores CT Castor and Chris France, seniors Caleb Aeschliman and Stephen Chang and freshman Ethan Dam.

“The older guys are teaching a lot,” Gornik said. “We have split into groups with five captains and each captain having a group of eight guys they are going to watch out for, helping them learn the game more and watching them as they play at matches.

“They are really helping in the development of the younger players and making sure they stay on top of grades.”

Along with the older players taking leadership roles, the younger guys have adjusted nicely to their role on the squad.

“They have really just been doing a great job,” Gornik said. “They have taken to the game and are learning how to play and be great teammates. They are bringing experience from other sports as far as how to be a team and pushing the other guys.”

The team finished last year in the Richwoods Sectional.

“One of our goals is to get a doubles’ team to State,” Gornik said. “We want to be consistent and stay healthy.

“We want to try and compete as hard as we can with Morton and Metamora and just continue to grow as a team and not worry so much about record, but worry more about getting better as a team. We also want to build a program atmosphere as opposed to individuals.”

One of the strengths of the team is the amount of players in the program.

“We have a fairly big group who are pretty consistent at about the same level, so once we get down further into the lineup I can mix it up and get a lot of people playing time because they offer a lot of the same things,” Gornik said. “The younger players just getting up to the varsity level will need to learn how to play the varsity game.”

The Eagles started practice Feb. 27.

“We have been coming together really well, especially considering how many people there are,” Gornik said. “They are doing a good job of mixing together and not segregating into groups of freshmen or sophomores.”

“They are doing a good job of getting together and joking around. That’s what I hope to see and it’ll keep them growing as players.”

The team started the season March 17 at the Triad Invitational.

Dunlap lost the match to Edwardsville, 5-0.

“We had the toughest opening opponent in the tournament, they finished 21st in State as a team last year,” Gornik said. “We didn’t win a bunch of games, but we did get some valuable experience and many of the guys even agree, despite taking their lumps in their matches.”

The team then played Quincy and lost, 3-2.

Gootee won his match, 6-2, 6-3.

Dam also won, 6-6, 6-7, 10-5.

“We changed our line-up around a bit and were almost able to come away with a victory,” Gornik said. “Quincy is a pretty good team, especially in doubles, and we were able to take them to the very end before just getting edged out of a victory.

“We may not have won the match but we were able to try a few different doubles’ teams that may work better than what we had before. Two of our teams were able to take the match to a third set, which says a lot about the guys, especially since they hadn’t played together before.”

The team beat Galesburg, 9-0, Saturday at home.

Gootee, Garrison, Keenan, Collins, Dam and Castor all won matches.

The doubles’ pairs of Gootee and Garrison, Collins and Castor and Keenan and Dam each won their matches as well.

The team next plays at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at home against Washington.