If it’s to indeed be the final season coaching the Glendale Community College men’s tennis team, then Bob MacKay is confident he might have his best squad in tact since taking over the program in 2003.
MacKay, who said he will likely retire following the 2014 season, hasn’t normally carried more than around 10 players on a team in each of his previous seasons. He’s about to make an exception after heading down the recruiting trail and netting several former local high school players to help fill out the budding roster.
“Normally, I only carry 10 to 11 players,” said MacKay, whose team will begin its season with a nonconference road match against Cypress at 2 p.m. Jan. 28. “In this case, I couldn’t cut any of our 14 players because they are all just too good.
“We can only have six guys playing in a match. However, we do have plenty of depth if we have to change things around or if there’s an injury or two. It’s just going to come down to can they perform when needed and giving it their best all the time.”
While it’s a relatively new team that will feature 11 freshmen, the Vaqueros come in fresh off finishing 11-6, 5-3 in the Western State Conference to tie for second. Glendale suffered a 5-1 road defeat against San Diego Mesa in a quarterfinal match of the Southern California Regionals.
The Vaqueros will return Dat Le, Son Tran and Santiago Segovia, all of whom will be expected to provide leadership and help the freshmen make a smooth transition to the collegiate level. The returning trio will be joined by Oleg Simonyan (Hoover High), Dro DerMegerdichian (Hoover), Patrick Meserkhani (Crescenta Valley), Andrew Kevakian (St. Francis), Clayton Pauff (Burbank), Hosep Orojian, Cameron Braun, Nicholas Araaujo, Giovane Octaviano, Rondie Latham and Kyle Chen.
“The pieces appear to be in place and I think there can really be some great team chemistry,” MacKay said. “They are united and work well with each other in the weight room and then on the courts.
“I think it’s a team that can contend for a conference championship and make the playoffs. They realize they have to play to their potential and value winning each point in a match.”
Simonyan, a former All-Area honoree, enjoyed a fantastic season last year with Hoover. Simonyan finished runner-up in the Pacific League Tournament and helped the Tornadoes qualify for the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Individuals Tournament.
Glendale will begin conference competition Feb. 18 at Bakersfield College. The Vaqueros will meet defending conference champion Ventura on Feb. 25 in a conference home opener before traveling to Ventura on March 18.
In addition to their conference matches, the Vaqueros will compete in a handful of nonconference contests. The Vaqueros will face College of the Desert, Cypress and Riverside, among others, in nonconference matches.
The conference tournament will take place April 5-6 and 11 in Ventura. The 114th annual Ojai Invitational will be held April 24-27. The Ojai Invitational is the final event for junior college tennis, with the Southern California Regionals and state tournament taking place under the umbrella of the prestigious tournament.
MacKay said he’s expecting the conference to again be among the toughest in the state.
“You always know going in Ventura will be tough,” MacKay said. “Pierce will have some key players coming back and you know Bakersfield can provide a tough match or two.
“We always try to play a hard schedule. We want to try to get a few players up to Ojai.”