“We walk in the door and we are Region III champs immediately,” second-year coach Steve Johnston said.
In 2007, Kodiak became the first Region III school with a tennis program; six years later it remains the only school.
Johnston would gladly trade all six titles for some Region III competition.
“It would be nice to have some competition,” he said.
Eleven of the 23 students on the tennis team will get some competition this weekend when they take part in the Homer Tennis Association Invitational. This is the third-year Kodiak will attend the community tournament on the Kenai Peninsula that begins Saturday and finishes Sunday.
“It is one of the few affordable out-of-area competitions that we can do,” Johnston said.
Johnston would like to play other high schools from around the state, but he said it isn’t feasible for the self-funded program.
“I don’t have enough income stream coming in without charging the players,” he said.
With that said, he hopes to take four players to an inter-regional meet in Anchorage beginning Sept. 7.
It would be Kodiak’s first regular-season competition against another school in the program’s history.
“That would be groundbreaking,” Johnston said.
Kodiak sends players to the state tournament in October, but getting matches before then is essential to the growth of the program.
“You get used to the same opponent again and again,” Johnston said. “To have somebody that you are not used to playing, being able to play them will improve your game.”
Kodiak returns several players who represented the Bears at last year’s state tournament.
The boys roster features seniors Allen Santamaria and Akiyoshi Whitmore and juniors Lawrence Velasco and Sean Gill.
Denise De Lota, Saori Kageyama, Icy Basa and Amy Whitmore highlight the girls roster.
“We have a really high potential,” Johnston said. “I say we have the potential here to go with anybody head-to-head at state. Maybe I’m optimistic, but we really do have some good talent.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.