TEUTOPOLIS — Since taking over as the boys tennis coach four seasons ago, Kaye Kimpling’s teams have enjoyed plenty of success. Teutopolis has gone 36-4 in the previous three seasons, continually being one of the area’s most feared opponents.
This year the Wooden Shoes will attempt to continue their recent string of domination, but will have to do so without a bulk of last year’s roster, including state singles qualifier Joey Flach.
”We lost all but two of the varsity,” Kimpling said. “Kyle Brumleve is No. 1 this year, he played fourth last year. Ryan Westendorf played seventh, so they are the only two left.”
Brumleve and Westendorf provide the Wooden Shoes with at least a little bit of carry over from 2012, and Brumleve will be Teutopolis’ No. 1 singles player as a junior. Kimpling says Brumleve has stayed plenty busy this offseason, and that he should hopefully be ready to go full swing when the season starts this Saturday, in spite of the recent weather.
”Kyle has been to some tournaments,” she said. “T-Town kids are good about that, they get on the courts all the time.”
Westendorf, a senior, will start the season as No. 2 on the singles lineup. Kimpling says he has plenty of talent in singles, but will also be a force in doubles action.
”He will do pretty decent at singles,” she said, “but he is a really good doubles player. He’ll make an impact in doubles.”
Coming in at No. 3 singles is Matt Grunloh, a physically imposing senior that will be counted on to step up and win some matches for the Wooden Shoes this spring.
”Matt’s just a big, strong guy,” Kimpling said. “He will muscle his way around the court.”
Newcomer Andy Mersman will also play an integral role for Teutopolis at No. 4 singles, and Kimpling is expecting Mersman to carry on the family name.
”His brother was number one last year, and for a couple years,” she said. “Andy is going to be a good little player, he just needs the experience.”
The last four spots in Kimpling’s eight-man rotation are players that don’t have a lot of varsity experience, but have plenty of matches under their belt from a full JV schedule each spring.
Junior Jay Funneman will start the year at No. 5 singles, and sophomore Mitch Meinhart will be placed in the No. 6 spot for Kimpling’s team. Junior Ben Hoelscher and senior Alex Kreke complete the lineup, but the two figure to make their most impact on the doubles circuit.
”Ben has played a long time,” Kimpling said. “He will probably do most of his playing at double. Alex will do mostly doubles for us.”
On the cusp of cracking the rotation are a trio of capable freshmen in Jared Apke, Trevor Lee and Jacob Mette.
”We have three other freshmen that are going to be coming up,” Kimpling said. “We have some sophomores in Nick Pals and Nick Ruholl that are right there too, ready to bust through.”
Teutopolis may have a difficult time replicating last season’s run, which ended with a 8-1 defeat at the hands of St. Anthony, but Kimpling says if her team’s attitude is any indication, the Wooden Shoes should be just fine.
”The team is willing to learn,” she said. “They listen, they will try things and work hard at it. It makes my job a lot easier and a lot more fun, that’s why we have a lot of success.”
The Wooden Shoes will begin the year today at the Triad High School Invitational, a tournament that Kimpling doesn’t expect to win, but it will give her roster an early measuring stick against top-notch opponents.
”The more they play the better they are going to get,” she said. “We’re ready to start, ready to go out and play some real matches.”
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com