Changes are all around for Pasadena-area boys' tennis

ARCHIVE PHOTO: San Marino High's Danny Gealer will bolster the Titans' singles lineup this season. (Mike Mullen / March 2, 2013)

There’s varying expectations heading into the 2013 high school boys’ tennis season.

Teams like La Salle and Marshall Fundamental are still sorting through their roster. Maranatha essentially has a new-look team with a first-year coach and a fraction of its players from last season gone.

Pasadena’s been difficult to predict, considering its early-season thumping at the hands of Arcadia. Then there’s powerhouse San Marino, plugging in a few new pieces and expecting to continue its winning way.

Dropping from Division I to II did little to upset San Marino second-year Coach Melwin Pereira.

The Titans lost to University in the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinals last season, impeding their chance at the crown after having won the Rio Hondo League title.

If San Marino intends to nab the divisional championship, it will likely see a challenger in Palm Desert. But that’s fine by Pereira.

“I’m thrilled,” he said. “As long as University is not around happy, I’m happy. It’s the same for all the other coaches [whose programs are no longer in Division I]. University, they’re full-stacked. So, I’m expecting to do better because I don’t have University to stop me.”

Back at another run are 10 players from last season, including No. 1 singles player James Wade, who’s received a scholarship offer from UC Davis.

“He’s very disciplined, dedicated and he has a good work ethic,” Pereira said. “He’s an aggressive baseliner, and he’s working on improving his serve. He hits heavy balls, top spit. And he’s quick on his feet.”

Ryan Chang and Danny Gealer will also be in the mix as singles players.

Gealer was the No. 2 singles player last year and could very well return to the same spot this season. Like Wade, Gealer is also an aggressive baseliner and steady. Through his USTA matches, he’s gotten plenty of experience and has put together a solid all-around game.

Chang, a freshman, also brings with him plenty of USTA experience. Pereira refers to him as more of a “counter-puncher, and a little bit of an aggressive baseliner who gets a lot of balls back.”

With Nicholas Splichal, Robert Carter, and Derek Chen, Pereira believes he has plenty of room to be flexible with lineups.

There’s some uncertainty, however, with the doubles teams. So far, Carter and Chen (Carter was part of the No. 1 doubles team last year with Timothy Duong) could emerge as a potential duo. In an early season match against Loyola, Carter and Chen swept all three of their matches in a 12-6 win.

The combination is particularly appealing because Chen, a left-hander, complements the right-handed Carter.

“They’re jelling together,” Pereira said. “It’s coming along, getting better. The season is still young. We’ve only had one match. I’m hoping by the time CIF comes around, they will know each other better and know each other’s strength and weaknesses.”

As a team, he added, “We’re just going to go out and try our best and play as a team and see what happens.”

Pasadena Poly will see a new figure at the helm after 45 years, following coach Howie Farer's retirement.

Sheryl Bon-Bakalov takes over the Panthers, inheriting seven of 12 players from last season.