Scotts Valley High boys’ tennis team features 22 players, including 11 seniors, this year. The Falcons currently own a 5-0 record in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League. (contributed)

Prior to the 2024 campaign, Scotts Valley High boys’ tennis coach Scott Goodrich was a little surprised after seeing such a large turnout.

This year’s deep roster features 22 players, including 11 seniors, which is the most of any group—boys and girls—since he took over the tennis program five years ago.

“We just emphasize team, we emphasize having fun,” he said. “We don’t emphasize you have to be at a certain skill level to make the team. We’re very inclusive and I think that’s built upon itself, I give the kids credit for that.”  

This year’s boys’ team currently owns a 5-0 record in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League action ahead of Aptos (5-1), Soquel (3-2), Santa Cruz (3-3), San Lorenzo Valley (1-5) and Harbor (0-6).

The Falcons are led by senior James Delaney, a co-captain and the team’s No. 1 singles player. In his first year on the team, the 2023 season didn’t go as planned after Delaney was sidelined with an injury and missed the end-of-season league tournament.

“This year I’m just going to play throughout the entire season and just contribute as many wins as I can for the team,” he said. 

Goodrich praised his star tennis player for being the first one to arrive to practice and the last person to leave the court. Delaney will find himself taking on the best players in the SCCAL match after match.

“Sometimes he wins those matches, sometimes he loses those matches, but he never gets down, stays very positive,” Goodrich said. “He’s just a good role model, especially for the younger players.”

Other singles players include senior and co-captain Marshall Dodge, a third year player in the No. 2 spot who had a spectacular season on the football field.

Dodge was named the Pacific Coast Athletic League North Mission Division’s Lineman of the Year and earned Cal-High Sports All-State Second Team football honors for small schools.

“He’s a gifted athlete because he’s not only just physically talented, but he’s quick on his feet, strong, of course, but he’s just a great teammate,” Goodrich said.

At No. 3, senior and co-captain Henry Spitzer is the lone four-year varsity player on the team, followed by junior Elijah Diamond at No. 4.

Diamond, who was also a member of the boys’ soccer team, helped initiate the thrilling come-from-behind victory against Aptos.

Scotts Valley stunned the Mariners, 4-3, in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League action on March 14. The win also snapped Aptos’ 53-game win streak in league play that dated back to 2017, including the abbreviated 2021 season.

Delaney said beating Aptos didn’t necessarily make them the best team in the SCCAL, but he believes it gave other teams in the league a chance to compete with the Mariners.

Tied at 3-all, it came down to the No. 3 doubles match to determine the winner.

Scotts Valley seniors Hunter Young and Julian De Santos sealed the deal in two sets with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Samer Awwad and Owen McGinty of Aptos.

“It was two good teams battling each other and we were fortunate to come out on top,” Goodrich said. “I told the guys we can relish that for the moment but that match is done, don’t get complacent and let’s continue on one match at a time.”

The top doubles team is led by senior Jules Dudek and sophomore Alitya Hannon, followed by sophomore Gabriel Dodge and senior Wesley Theissen at No. 2, and at No. 3 are Young and DeSantos.

Theissen and Gabriel Dodge were also instrumental in helping the Falcons win an exciting comeback tiebreaker against Aptos.

“We just came in with that nothing to lose attitude,” Delaney said. “We’re definitely the underdogs here but anything can happen with our team this year. That was where the newer players had their day to shine and carry the team that day.”

Other seniors include Evan Anderson, Cooper Wickum, Mars Davis, Mark Goncharov, Mateusz Niemiec and Collin Rebo. The rest of the crew is a mix of underclassmen in sophomores Jacob Bodeman, Garvasis Kuriakose and Lincoln Verinsky; and freshmen Christian Estrada, Cameron Larson and Kai Lewis.

Goodrich said one of the nice things about this year’s group is most of the players are natural athletes that played multiple sports.

“That adds a nice dimension to the team, as well,” he said.

Delaney added that he’s confident Goodrich will get the next generation of players competitive and ready to go for years to come.

“It just points to the depth our team has this year compared to other years,” Delaney said. “It really helps out on match days when one or two of our top players can’t play, there’s always players to put in their place. It’s been working pretty good, so far.”

Scotts Valley still has five SCCAL matches remaining, starting with an anticipated rematch at Aptos on April 9 at 4:30pm.

The Falcons will close out the regular season against Santa Cruz, SLV and twice with Soquel. The SCCAL singles and doubles tournaments are scheduled to begin April 29.

“We have to keep our intensity up 100% and now drop off,” Delaney said. “We have been in situations like this before. Maybe not quite this good, but we’ve been in good situations and maybe the intensity drops five to 10%, and that makes all the difference between winning and losing.”

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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