By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
State championship contender Daniel Martinez, who missed last season with a hip flexor, will be back in the Plainsmen tennis lineup when EHS opens the season today at the Muskogee Tournament.
Martinez, who was fifth as a freshman and third as a sophomore at No.1 singles, appears to be back at 100 percent.
“He’s been going up to Oaktree once a week to hit with some boys from Edmond and he’s been having a lot of success,’’ said Enid coach Darrell Herndon. “We have high hopes for him.’’
Martinez is ranked No. 2 in Boys 18s by the Oklahoma District Tennis Association. He’s ranked No. 200 nationally and has committed to play at Southern Illinois University.
Martinez’s absence was felt last season when the Plainsmen qualified only one doubles team for the state tournament. Martinez’s return allows the rest of the lineup to drop to their old positions where they should be more competitive.
“Everybody was showing a lot of improvement last year,’’ Herndon said, “but you couldn’t see it as much because everyone was playing up a level where they might have been overmatched.’’
No. 2 singles player Zach Gwin was 8-16 at No. 1 singles, but he qualified for state as a doubles player as a sophomore. He is ranked No. 9 in Boys 18s by the ODTA.
Blake Young and Tyler Hallett, who were fifth at No. 2 singles in regionals a year ago, were projected as the No. 1 doubles team until Young injured his meniscus on a treadmill.
The full extent of the injury is not known, but surgery could be required.
That has caused Herndon to switch to Connor Angleton and Ryan Leap to No. 1 doubles and team Hallett with freshman Brandon Kang at No. 2. Leap, is back in tennis after playing golf a year ago. Angleton qualified for state at No. 1 doubles with Jason Christopherson a year ago and at No. 2 singles as a freshman.
Kang is competing with freshman Drew Callant and veteran Koderick Miller to play with Hallett if Young is out for the season.
Miller saw extensive action last season, both in doubles and singles. He was sixth in the regionals at No. 2 doubles.
“They’re all pretty close,’’ Herndon said. “The best (singles) player among them might not necessarily be the best doubles player. You have to do a little bit of experimenting.’’
Herndon sees the Plainsmen being a competitive team in 2013.
“I think we have a good chance of finishing in the top five to seven in a 16-team tournament,’’ Herndon said.