Since Bob MacKay took over as coach of the Glendale Community College men's tennis team in 2003, he's never fielded an all-freshman squad.
That will change this season, and it’s left MacKay eagerly examining the program’s prospects of players, who hail from Glendale to Latin America to Asia.
“We are excited because of all the different challenges that we face,” said MacKay, whose team will begin its season at 2 p.m. Friday with a nonconference home match against Mount San Antonio College. “We have had a pretty good offseason in recruiting players and these are some good ones.
“They provide a lot of leadership and the culture shock bothers me the least because Glendale has a strong ethnicity of different cultures. I’m optimistic all of these guys will be able to mesh and fit into our program.”
MacKay said it will take some time for the players to adjust to the collegiate level. Still, he expects the Vaqueros to contend for the Western State Conference championship, which Ventura has won seven consecutive seasons.
The 10-player field will consist of Yeprem Chavdarian from Hoover High, Oscar Lam, Philip Lam and Frank Chicco from Burroughs, Andrew You, Gaspar Macalutas, Stephen Joharry, Dat Le, Santiago Segovia and Son Tungh Trinh. Joharry is from Indonesia, Segovia is from Argentina and Trinh and Le are natives of Vietnam.
“We realize we have a team that’s got some good personalities,” said MacKay, whose team finished 6-11, 3-7 in conference last season and will look to win the conference crown for the first time since 2005. “We’ve got a group that can play with power and others who play strong backcourt and some who have soft hands that provide a good touch for the ball.
“They come here to play because they want to play. Whether you are the No. 1 player or No. 6 player, it counts for one point.”
Glendale college, which last appeared in the postseason in 2010, will begin conference competition at home Feb. 19 against Bakersfield College. The Vaqueros will meet Ventura on Feb. 26 at Ventura before hosting it March 19.
In addition to their conference matches, the Vaqueros will compete in a handful of nonconference contests. The Vaqueros will face powerhouses College of the Desert, Cypress and Cerritos, among others, in nonconference matches.
The conference tournament will take place April 5-6 and 12 in Ventura. The prestigious Ojai Invitational will be held April 25-28.
“I think we have the type of team that can compete for the conference championship,” MacKay said. “I’m optimistic heading into every year.
“We are very strong at the top of the lineup. it comes down to can they play when it counts and do they have the ability to close out matches. We have a tough schedule and we did it on purpose. You know going in that you have to be prepared.”