Dave Burkett, the Boyertown High boys’ tennis coach, didn’t return any starters to play singles this year. He’s returning three players, but all of them played doubles last year. He does have 15 seniors on the team, but most of them have little varsity experience.
So the expectations are not high this year. It will be a learning season for this team, and wins will be a little tougher to come by.
“I’m happy about it,” said Burkett. “I don’t like losing, but I know the kids are very inexperienced coming into the season. We’ve played two of the better teams (Phoenixville and Methacton) and they are two of the best teams in the league. This year, they’re going to be very good.
“We played them both very tough. I’m happy where we are and I hope we get better as the season goes along. I think they’re doing a good job. They’re playing hard, having fun and that’s all I care about.”
Of course Burkett is concerned with the lack of varsity experience coming into the season, but he notes that he’s never had a losing record since he took over the team 19 years ago. He doesn’t know what to expect from his players this season. Burkett always gets a lot of kids to come out so Burkett knows that he needs someone to step up this year.
“I’m very lucky that I have a lot of kids come out,” said Burkett. “I have really good kids that play tennis. I’m always lucky in that respect.”
Making up for the inexperience will be tough. Right now Coach Burkert is trying to find a diamond in the rough. He’s working them hard in practice, trying to find the best players of the bunch.
Burkett is very happy with how the team is progressing so far. He’s happy with the work ethic and sees his player continue to improve each day at practice and in all of their matches so far.
The biggest strength that Burkett sees for this year is that he has a very smart team. He feels that he has good kids who will listen and that are very coachable. He also likes their enthusiasm. They have been willing to put in the work to improe themselves.
“They want to learn and they’re willing to learn,” said Burkett.
Due to the lack of experience coming back, Burkett didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the season. The one expectation he has coaching any tennis team is for them to play hard, play the right way and have fun. Burkett feels that if they’re not doing that, then he’s not doing something right.
The three returning players are seniors Evan Farkosh and Cam Long, and junior Austin Collins.
Farkosh is the top seed this year and is facing the other teams’ number one player. Burkett expects Evan and Cam to be leaders. He also expects them to lead by example. He notes that they are tremendous leaders and have a great work ethic.
“It’s tough to expect a lot when you’re coming from doubles to singles,” said Burkett. “They’ve done a nice job and they’ve held their own.
“This is his (Austin’s) first year playing singles. The big thing with him is confidence. If he can get his confidence, he’s a really good tennis player. Sometimes if he gets down on himself, it snowballs. Next year, he’ll be a little better with a year of singles under his belt. Next year, he should be pretty decent.”
Sophomores Phil Huber and Dave Herring are looking to make an impact and are playing fourth doubles at this point of the season. “They’re doing a great job. So far they’re 3-1,” said Burkett. “They look good together.”
Burkett feels that there’s three teams that are in the top of the league. Those teams are Phoenixville, Methacton and Spring-Ford. According to Burkett, Spring-Ford is returning a lot of players. Perk Valley is a surprise team who has gotten better over the past couple of years.
“That’s kind of a surprise,” said Burkett. “I knew they would be good, but they really stepped up their game. They’re undefeated and they’re going to be tough.”
Burkett feels that Owen J. Roberts and Pope John Paul will be a good battle for them.
As for competing in the league this year with an inexperienced team, there will be some challenges for the Bears. Burkett knows that his teams are always competitive. He also feels that it’s tough to pull out matches when your team is the underdog. To pull off the upset, his team would need four upsets, not just one, to win a match.
“Will we compete in every match? Yes, but we won’t win every match,” said Burkett.