The Junction City tennis team headed into the 2020 season with a bunch of young and unproven freshmen and sophomores who were ready to start their maturation process before COVID-19 stopped them in their tracks and put that growth on hold for a calendar year. Now, Blue Jay head coach Matt Micheel heads into the 2021 season with three cemented varsity players and a large group of young talent that’s raw but has potential.
“It was disappointing but you had to run with it and adapt when the time came,” head coach Matt Micheel said. “We had a team that two years ago had a lot of seniors and we had a lot of freshmen and sophomores. A lot of those freshmen and sophomores would have been stepping up last year. We would have had a really good team that had excellent leadership and some young and hungry guys and we didn’t get to see them play. It was like seeing a whole new regime change after all those seniors graduated in 2019, and we didn’t get a chance to see it so I was really pretty bummed. So we’re just trying to get it going again this year.”
Juniors Hayden Distelkamp and Thomas Norris and senior Nate Green will serve as the experienced brain trust for Micheel this season as they attempt to jumpstart a very promising growth process that was left on the vine a year ago when the season was canceled.
“We have three or four guys that will really get some varsity experience this year that we can hopefully get to a higher level and then we’ve got to develop the rest of them,” Micheel said. “Hayden Diestelkamp played varsity for us as a freshman, Nate Green is another guy that would have been on varsity last year and then Thomas Norris moved in from California last year and we never got a chance to see him play but he’s a good competitor and works really hard.”
While there’s lots of work to be done in the rebuilding process, Green has really taken to his teammates old and new and sees success in their future.
“We have so much potential here,” Green said. “It’s a lot of young guys and I think just two seniors this year, but just like the camaraderie that I’ve seen so far has been great. We all seem to get along and so if we can build that foundation of teamwork, and then build on skill, we’ll be a great team in the future”
Junction City will open the 2021 season on March 27 with a quad at the Krossover Tennis Facility in Topeka.