Deeper Eskymos eying Upper Peninsula crown

Boys tennis

ESCANABA — The Escanaba boys tennis team has seen an increase in numbers from last year and head coach Tom Penegor is excited to get the season started.

“We’re looking to improve on how we did last year,” said Penegor, who is in his second year of coaching. “The kids are excited and they’re focused.”

Esky has 28 kids competing this year compared to 17 last year.

The Eskymos finished third in the Great Northern Conference and fourth in the U.P. finals last season.

Penegor’s main goal is to win a U.P. title. It has been 10 years since the Eskymos ruled the U.P. so they are extra motivated to capture the crown this year.

“With more experience coming back this year and the addition of several athletes from basketball and hockey, I feel that if we can play to our potential, we have a chance to compete for the U.P. title,” said Penegor.

The Eskymos’ roster features nine seniors, nine juniors, three sophomores, and seven freshmen.

Paul Carne and Nick Dufour will return for their senior seasons as captains.

“Paul and Nick are very good leaders by example,” said Penegor. “They’re competitors and they’re good teammates.”

Other returning seniors include Max Shariff and Dylan Rosenfeldt. Esky also brings in a new crop of seniors that include Max Dagenais, Logan Caron, Tyler Willette, Gavin Peacock and Chris LeMire.

“We have some athletes who are playing for the first time including Tyler Willete who was the co-mvp for the GNC in basketball,” said Penegor. “And we have Chris LeMire who did well in football and hockey. It was nice to get some of these athletes to come out and give us more depth.”

Juniors include Josh Grassel, Addam Claes, Brandon Kangas, Nathan Pascoe, Alex Valentine, Cody Strevens, Soren Thompson, Charlie Wilson, and Colton Hayes.

The Eskymos only have one returning sophomore in Christer Carne. Two additional sophomores are out for the team this year including Garrett LaMarsh and Ben Willis.

This year’s freshman class includes Tommy Mayville, Travis Burch , Garrett Johnson, Logan Smith, Ian Valentine, Justin Mathieson, and Hunter Larson.

“With so many players on our team this year, we are still in the process of evaluating our talent as far as who will be playing doubles and singles,” said Penegor.

Penegor is excited for the season to get underway and he’s especially looking forward to the matchup against Gladstone.

“With Gladstone being only five or six miles away a lot of our kids know their kids,” said Penegor. “That’s always a nice match. We live so close and it’s kind of for bragging rights for that year.”

The Eskymos kick off their season Friday as they travel to Menominee in an indoor meet that will include six teams.

The schedule:

April 21 — at Menominee

April 27 — at Menominee

May 1 — Gladstone

May 4 — at Iron Mountain

May 9 — at Kingsford

May 10 — Munising

May 11 — Negaunee

May 13 — at Kingsford

May 15 — at Marquette

May 16 — Kingsford

May 17 — at Gladstone

May 18 — Menominee

May 22 — Iron Mountain

May 23 — Marquette

May 25 — at Kingsford (GNC meet)

May 30 — West iron County