Piedmont boys tennis looks forward to another good season

Nate Welch (left) and Monte Imburg on March 22, 2023

Piedmont High School’s boys tennis team should have another strong season this year. The Highlanders have many top players back and a set ladder with only a question at third doubles.

“We should be pretty good,” coach Jim Landes said. “I’m happy with the team through the top four singles players and the two doubles. Then we drop off.”

Lucas Smolko is back after an outstanding freshman season. He made the finals of the West Alameda County Conference and North Coast Section tournaments. He’ll anchor the No. 1 singles spot.

“Lucas has been playing tennis since he was 3 years old,” Landes said. “He was always a precocious player. He plays a lot of tournaments. He has a great all-around game, can do everything on the court.”

Senior Ben Breber will play No. 2 singles.

“Ben probably has the biggest serve in the league,” Landes said. “It’s just gigantic. When he’s serving well, he’s very hard to beat. He just doesn’t play tournaments the way Lucas does. On a good day, he can beat almost anybody.”

New players will fill out the third and fourth singles spots: Sophomore Nate Welch and senior Graham Alban.

“Welch also has a big serve, tall kid like Ben,” Landes said. “He just needs more experience. He doesn’t know what to do in certain situations because he doesn’t have the experience. He’s just going to get better and better.

“(Alban’s) a surprise. I had a little round robin for the three and four spots and I was a little surprised he came in second. He’s serving much better. He has always had a good forehand. His backhand is improved. It still needs improvement as does his net game. He’s really earned that position.”

Seniors Monte Imburg and Arun Brahma are the top doubles team. Landes said Imburg is probably good enough to be one of the singles players but he much prefers playing doubles.

“When he’s playing well, he’s probably the best doubles player in the league,” Landes said of Imburg. Of Brahma, he said, “He’s very aggressive. He moves around at the net, has a good overhead, takes a lot of volleys. His weakness in singles is his consistency, but that’s not as glaring in doubles. The points are shorter. You don’t have to hit five balls in a row.”

Piedmont’s Willie Tenney eyes the ball as he prepares to hit a backhand on March 22, 2023.

Juniors Nick King and Will Tenney are at No. 2. Landes said King, who plays on the football team, is very good for somebody who only plays tennis three months a year. Tenney has a father who plays tennis and his two older sisters played for Piedmont.

“He’s a strong player,” Landes said. “Good serve, powerful ground stroke.”

Right now, juniors Kasper Jansson and Torsten Olsen make up the No. 3 doubles team. Freshmen Hunter Fasteau and Maximo Miller will team up for doubles as well. And seniors Siddarth Bhatia and Derek Chan will be a doubles option.

Piedmont will play another tough schedule, with Campolindo, Miramonte, University, Lick-Wilmerding, and Head-Royce in non-league play. Bishop O’Dowd is expected to be the biggest challenge in the WACC.

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