"I've never seen a team work so hard," Bradshaw boys' tennis coach Joe Borzello said of his 2012 squad.
That's good, because the Bears must reload this season after losing to graduation standouts Bob and Nick Berardi. Borzello is juggling his returning players, but hasn't finalized the lineup.
"We're left needing to fill the one, two and six varsity singles spots and the two and three doubles," Borzello said.
This year's seniors are returning veterans Chris Rutherford, John Brewer and Kyle Jarpe.
Although none of the three won the bulk of their matches in previous seasons, Borzello said, they're giving it their all once again.
"Rutherford has worked hard to improve during the off season and Brewer has been giving 100 percent and more during practices. I expect both to be much stronger players this season. Skippy (Kyle) Jarpe is working harder than anyone to make varsity this year," the coach said.
Borzello also likened returning player and junior Max Miller to "a caged animal ready to spring."
"I'm anxious to see what he has to give us in the first match," Borzello said.
Sophomore William Waidelich also returns, after a strong freshman year as a varsity player.
Fortunately, the players convinced Borzello to return as well. This past season, Borzello told his team he would resign if they didn't win their final eight matches. They rolled through seven and lost the eighth 5-4 to Mingus. But he didn't need much convincing, because the statement was only ever meant as a motivation device, to show the boys how much confidence he had in them.
He has the same confidence this year. He said a good turnout of players on JV and varsity "will fight for every point."
"Mentally and physically we're ready to play anyone - yes, even Prescott," Borzello said. "When all is said and done, all I can ask or expect is that each player is the best he can be, on and off the court."
The Bears open at Kingman today, and will play host to Orme on March 8.