KEARNEY — Kearney High boys tennis had a banner year in 2018.
The fourth-place finish at the state meet was the highest since 2010. But graduation took away record-setting doubles team of #3 Max Rademacher and Kaleb Strawhecker, who finished second at No. 1 doubles.
Kollin Goff, who teamed with Ryan Mahalek to finish sixth at No. 2 doubles, also graduated.
But that means half of last year’s state tournament squad return.
“Our team graduated a lot of experience. There will be a lot of competition for our tournament spots,” said coach Troy Saulsbury, who is entering his 11th year with the Bearcats.
Senior Phillip Tran finished sixth at No. 1 singles last year. He has played at the state tournament all three years and will be the team leader, Saulsbury said.
Mahalek also returns as does senior Carson Elstermeier, who went 2-2 at No. 2 singles at last year’s state meet.
Other returning lettermen for the Bearcats are seniors Chinyere Obasi, Justin Baumert and Travis Sherbeck, and juniors Charlie Brockmeier and Carter Goff.
“It is important for us to have success early on in the season and continue to build on it,” Saulsbury said. “It will be important for our upperclassman that have been waiting in the wings to continue to build off of last season’s result.”