Dawson Beckstead
PHS junior Dawson Beckstead returns after playing at No. 1 singles last season. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

With only a handful of outside practices, the Philomath High boys tennis team enters this season with lineup questions to be answered.

Warriors coach Gary Quandt knows that he has talent — but he’s working out the specifics on how they’ll fit in to produce the most favorable results.

Dylan Bell
PHS senior Dylan Bell is among the key returnees for the boys. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

“I’ve got a lot of options right now,” Quandt said. “We should get two to three players to state … but we’ll see how they come along during the season.”

Junior Dawson Beckstead returns after playing at No. 1 singles last season. Sophomore Andrew Leonard, who was the team’s No. 2 singles player, is also back on the court.

Other significant returnees that Quandt can plug and play include seniors Dylan Bell, Noah Aynes and Mark Grimmer, junior Teddy Benbow, and sophomore Gradin Fairbanks.

“Leonard is good, he beat Dylan the other day, so he’s improving,” Quandt said. “Noah and Teddy — they’re improving because they’re both just good athletes. The other guys I’m just learning about .. but there are a couple of guys that are better than others.”

In all, Quandt has 13 athletes on the roster. Others competing include senior Braedon Littrell, sophomores Sawyer Ainsworth, Osvaldo Garcia-Bazan and Owen Thomas, and freshmen Ethan Aynes and Jackson Holroyd.

Grimmer, who played doubles last season with Judah Bacho, will miss time early this season because of a rib injury.

Philomath will open the season at home Monday with a 4 p.m. dual against Blanchet Catholic, a private school out of Salem. Quandt said he’s happy with the schedule, which includes a challenging tournament at Oregon Episcopal School on April 9.

Quandt is entering his 10th season coaching in Philomath High’s tennis program. But he transitions into only the boys’ coach this season after heading up both the boys and girls in past years.

The school hired longtime Sandy coach Greg Thorson to take over the girls’ program.

“Now I can focus only on the guys,” Quandt said. “I’ll see all of the matches so when it comes to districts and seeding, I’ll have a better picture because I would’ve seen all of the players.”

In past seasons, Quandt was trying to make judgments based only on results. As the only full-time coach, he always accompanied whichever Philomath team was on the road.

“Most of the time, results are fine but sometimes, the eye test makes a difference if it’s close,” Quandt said. “And I can concentrate on these guys all the time.”

Quandt said it didn’t matter if he coached the boys or the girls and in fact, he said he gave Thorson first choice.

“I’m just happy that I’m not having to travel all of the time,” Quandt said.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.