The Mustangs' Tori Fishburn tries to reach a difficult shot. Coach Sally Jo Cook said the team has nearly 50 players out this season.
Thanks to an influx of first-year players, Chugiak High's tennis team is growing by the day.
Thirty-eight were on the team as of last week, and third-year head coach Sally Jo Cook expected more to join.
"I imagine we my hit 50," she said.
The Mustangs ended last season with 52 on the squad, Cook said.
Freshmen are joining the team in droves, she said.
"This is a stellar year for freshmen that has come out," Cook said. "It's kind of exciting."
This season is a rebuilding year, but the new talent should pay dividends in the Mustangs' future, Cook said.
"In a year or two down the line, it could be a really great thing," she said.
The top girls returner is senior Kirsten Bruggemann, Cook said. Seniors Forrest Campnell and CJ Reimann, who just returned to the court after breaking both wrists in a dirt bike accident, are key returners for the boys, Cook said.
"We now have a pretty good varsity squad," she said.
Bruggemann, Campnell and Reimann are each entering their third year on varsity. They were new to the sport prior to joining the team, Cook said.
Cook said she's hoping all three have success in their final season.
"They worked their way up the ladder and now they're the top dogs," she said.
New to the team is junior Jim Marchlinski, who moved to Alaska from Tennessee. Marchlinski is the strongest player for the boys, Cook said. He was the sole winter against West High on Aug. 16 as the boys No. 1 singles player, she said.
Cook said she's excited at the chance to work with so many players new to the game.
"I think we're gonna have some fun and learn a lot," she said.
Having fun is something the tennis team does every year, Cook said.
"It's a fun program. The kids enjoy it and they have fun," she said.
Cook has coached other sports including soccer and basketball, but the friendships she's seen formed in tennis are by far the strongest.
"The tennis kids just seem to be friends for life," Cook said.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.