With his back pressed against the chain-link fence at Air Academy's tennis courts, Kadets' No. 2 singles player Naish Gaubatz was still in a bit of disbelief on how the 2013 season has started.
Two weeks ago the senior was fighting for a spot on the team after he spent the last two years playing at No. 3 doubles. But by Saturday afternoon Gaubatz was enjoying his new role with his first singles win and a high school tournament in hand.
"I didn't think I'd be No. 2 singles honestly. I mean I knew I we would all have to work really hard to help fill all the shoes of the guys we lost," said Gaubatz, who won the No. 2 singles title at the Kadet Court Kickoff on Saturday. "But now, I just want to keep going. And as a team, all of us know the great legacy of this program. We don't want to disrespect that and come out bad this season."
They didn't. The new-look Kadets won all but one individual title (No. 4 doubles) as No. 1 singles player Keenan Kaltenbacher, a junior, added to the long list of hosting smiles Saturday when he finished off a 6-2, 6-7, 10-5 tiebreak win in the finals.
Afterward, finally stopping from pacing around the courts all day, first-year coach Matt Kiser said Gaubatz and Kaltenbacher will have to continue to lead the young Kadets, who lost eight varsity players from last season - seven to graduation and one to basketball.
"They know what it takes. They may be in different roles this year but they are both outstanding players and leaders," said Wiser, 11-year coach Ron Gorr's successor. "They all blew me away though - all of them. I knew the talent, but with such a young team you don't expect this much success so quick. They were terrific this weekend."
Saturday, it was the captains who showed their strengths late in two completely different matches.
First, Gaubatz was in total control against Castle View's Josh Shunt in the 6-0, 6-1 win.
"You know from playing doubles for so long I had some good things coming in. I kind of play serve-volley tennis right now. Yeah, it's a little retro, a little 1970s and John McEnroe-esque, but it's worked well this weekend," said Gaubatz, who lost only three games in the two-day tournament. "But I'm confident going forward with my singles tournament work over the offseason. I got better with more of your groundstrokes and stuff like that, which means my game can be more contemporary like a Nadal or Federer."
Well, that's the goal at least, he said.
Then, over in the white-knuckler, Kaltenbacher had to regroup after a tough second set to hold on for the back-and-fourth win over Castle View's Cody Carlton.
He said he's excited to be the top dog, taking over for his now-graduated brother Kollen, who finished fifth in No. 1 singles last season.
"I know I can do better, that's why I'm a little frustrated right now," said Kaltenbacher. "But I feel like I belong in this spot. I know what I can do if I keep working."