BELLINGHAM RED RAIDERS
Coach: Steve Chronister
Last season: 7-2 NWC, 11-4 overall, third in Conference, 2A district champs, finished 8th at state tournament
Players to watch: Andrew Troutman, So.; Kyle Buckham, So.; Oliver Colwell, Sr.; Sean Cooper, Jr.
Outlook: The Red Raiders return only two starters from last year’s district championship team that finished eighth at the state tournament, which has left room for fresh blood to take over. Bellingham coach Steve Chronister said despite his team’s inexperience, his players are a very willing, energetic and coachable group that is improving quickly. The team is led by sophomore singles players Andrew Troutman and Kyle Buckham — two players who helped the team to last year’s district crown. Bellingham won’t have the firepower of last season, but the team should be capable of finishing toward the middle to top of the pack in the NWC.
FERNDALE GOLDEN EAGLES
Coach: Rudy Vendiola
Last season: 7-9 overall
Players to watch: Tyler Hanson, Sr.; Taylor Pothier, Jr.; Duncan Linn, Sr.; Anthony Zanin, Sr.; Alan Obra Sr.
Outlook: The Golden Eagles believe they have what it takes to finish at the top of the NWC this season. Ferndale sent all its doubles and singles players into the district tournament last season and return half of the team this season. The Golden Eagles will be focused around a solid singles core, led by No. 1 Tyler Hanson, and once Taylor Pothier makes the switch back to doubles with partner-to-be Anthony Zanin, it should make the team very well rounded. Pothier is the county’s lone returning state participant from last season and is thirsting for another shot after going two and out. Look for Ferndale to be vastly improved from last year’s sub .500 team.
Coach: Trey Ballard
Players to watch: Ben Hamming, Sr.; Jordan Maier, Sr.; Michael Kaemingk, Sr.; Briley Benner, Fr.
Outlook: Lynden coach Trey Ballard said he has a team full of thinkers, which should be an advantage as the season progresses. He said they are smart players with the ability to break apart their play and think their way through each set before playing it. Not many Lions’ players had the opportunity for offseason training, so the team is still getting back into competitive form. Ben Hamming is the team’s best player and seems to be improving with every swing. The Lions should be a competitive team this year, but most likely won’t have enough to contend for a conference title.
Coach: Bonna Giller
Last season: 13-0 NWC, 15-1 overall, Conference Champions
Players to watch: Evan Madill, So.; William Giller, So.; Micah Koenig, Jr; Dustin Koenig, Jr.
Outlook: Sehome is looking to get its hands on a second straight Northwest Conference Championship, in fact coach Bonna Giller said she expects it. Despite returning only four starters from last season, the Mariners have the potential to go undefeated in NWC play for a second straight year. Evan Madill will be one of the county’s top singles players, and Giller said for the first time she will have three freshman playing varsity – not for lack of talent. Freshman Will Topp may have as much promise as any player in the conference. Mostly sophomores and a few juniors will round out the rest of the team’s lineup. Don’t expect youth to slow the Mariners down. Sehome is already off to a quick start and experience is only going to make the team better. The short and long-term future of this team looks very bright.
Coach: Joe O’Brien
Last season: 2nd conf. 12-1, 13-1 overall
Players to watch: Peter Cho, Jr. Jake Turk, Jr. Drew Oetgen, Jr., Keith Strickling, Fr., Nick Stackhouse Sr., Owie Gacad, Sr., Tyler Van Wingerden, Jr. Micah Ledoux, Nathan Vail, Austin Wegner, So.
Outlook: The Storm are hungry for a Northwest Conference championship after falling one match short last season, and this team is not short on the talent to be able to do it. Juniors Peter Cho and Jake Turk bolster a solid singles tandem that should be able to win matches for the team, and the duo of Nathan Vail and Austin Wegner will lead the way for a decent doubles squad. Squalicum’s biggest strengths will be in its competitiveness and its work ethic, coach Joe O’Brien said. Squalicum returns six players from last year’s varsity squad, but with a JV team that finished undefeated, it won’t be too difficult to fill the remaining spots. O’Brien says his young team will be in a building year, but they intend to build up for big things this season.