There is no denying it: Summit has done a lot of winning on the tennis court.

The Storm boys have won their district tournament in each of the past five seasons and a state title in five of the past seven, including the two most recent. But even after 15 overwhelmingly successful years at the helm, coach Josh Cordell says he can still find things to worry about.

“I stress and think about our lineup way more than any human should,” Cordell said with a laugh during a recent afternoon practice. “It’s pretty silly, actually, the amount of time that I spend thinking about our lineup and potential doubles teams and what other teams in the state are going to score and how we match up against that.”

But when it comes to his players and their performance on the court, Cordell seems much less concerned. Despite the fact that his team unexpectedly lost three state qualifiers who could have returned this season (one graduated early, another opted to play rugby this season and the third is attending a tennis academy in California), there is no sign of a talent drain.

“Our top two players are Carter Quigley and Garen Gasparovic, and they’re two of the best players in the Northwest,” Cordell said. “It’s fortunate any time you have two kids that good, and so they’re really setting the tone for this team.”

No program would turn down one or two of the top players in the state. But if the Storm want to make it three team titles in three years, it will take more than an individual title from Gasparovic, who has returned to the team after spending his sophomore year at a tennis academy, or Quigley, who was the singles runner-up at the state tournament last season.

“This year, Ashland, Corvallis and Churchill will be our big competition at state for the 5A level, but they typically haven’t had the depth we’ve had,” Cordell said. “For the past couple of years, we’ve been fortunate in that no one has been close to our depth. Other teams always produce top players, so we’ll go to state and it’s really tough to win an individual state title, because there are great players. But there haven’t been any 5A teams that have six players as good as our top six, definitely no teams that have 12 players as good as our top 12 for a while now.”

Summit has a large group of players to draw from: The 43 members of the team practice in two shifts, with JV practice following the varsity. Cordell said he has intentionally created a program in the mold of a football or basketball team, for which preparation for the high school squad begins years in advance and making varsity is a significant achievement. Indeed, Cordell said one of his current freshmen approached him as a sixth-grader to discuss what he would need to work on to play for the varsity team.

“If you want to be the quarterback at your high school, you don’t decide that in eighth grade,” Cordell said. “You’ve decided that a long time ago, and you’ve been working hard for it. And so the kids who are going to play varsity tennis for us didn’t get into high school and say ‘I think I want to play tennis.’”

Such an atmosphere can put a lot of pressure on kids, but that same intensity is an asset when the team faces opponents.

“(What makes us successful is) our willingness not just to be good, but to fight emotionally and mentally,” Quigley said. “We’re the loudest, the rowdiest, and we have the most fight in the state, and that’s part of our team, that’s part of who we are. We’re lucky enough to have a lot of skilled individuals, but that fight separates us from the rest of the state, as we’ve shown the past couple of years.”

Cordell and Quigley cited other factors in explaining Summit’s run of success, including a generally strong tennis community in Bend and the competitive culture found across sports at Summit High School.

But there is also the fact that all the practicing, traveling and competing can be an awful lot of fun.

“My least favorite part of practice is probably leaving,” Quigley said. ”That’s probably it.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0305, vjacobsen@bendbulletin.com.

12917794