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Andrew Petro has stepped up as one of the leaders of the WeBo tennis team.

DOVER – Last year, the Western Boone tennis team had a lot of inexperience coming into the year, but were able to battle their way to the sectional title match.

This year, with a bulk of that team back from a team that went 8-13 a year ago, the Stars are hoping to take the next steep forward as a team.

Head coach Dustin Cunningham said the group has been working hard for the season opener next week.

“I like our enthusiasm,” Cunningham said. “Last year, we had that deer in the headlights look sometimes with a lot of guys in their first year. Now, these guys have had that experience, and you can tell they want to improve upon last year. That’s definitely our goal this year.”

Cunningham said the continued improvement is probably the biggest goal for the squad this year.

Along with that, there are a couple of championships he wants the Stars to be up there battling for as the year goes on.

“Our goal always is to win conference,” Cunningham said. “It will be a tough road ahead, because Southmont brings back six or seven guys and pretty much dominated the conference last year. It will be tough, but we play them twice early on, so what I really want to see is a big improvement from the first match-up to the second.

“Along with that, we want to win our tournament, and we play in Lebanon’s tournament where we went 1-2 last year, so I want to improve there as well.”

Six of the seven players that featured in last year’s sectional championship are back with the team this year.

Cunningham said the leadership in the group throughout the summer and early parts of official practice have been encouraging.

“Junior Andrew Petro has done a really good job,” Cunningham said. “He did a great job this summer of not only being at pretty much everything we do, but getting guys to come out and play on off weeks. I think he played against five or six different guys that may not have been here otherwise. Gavin Hawkins is starting to emerge a bit more as a leader, and senior Nick Collins has done a good job with the leadership as well. Overall, it’s kind of been an effort by everybody.”

Western Boone begins the season next Tuesday at Delphi.

Cunningham said over the next few days of practice, there will be an emphasis on doubles play.

“We are working a lot on doubles,” he said. “We haven’t set a line-up yet, and we graduated two guys that contributed on-and-off to the varsity line-up – one being Wyatt Dickey at No. 1 doubles. So with half that pairing gone, it allows us to shift some things around a bit.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

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