April 4, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 50

Justin Blayne is back to lead Medical Lake tennis

The new direction of Medical Lake boy’s tennis has an old face attached to it.

No, Leroy Lemaster did not rescind his latest effort at retirement following the 2012 season.

Back at the helm is Justin Blayne, the former Cardinal multi-sport athlete who was the last guy to take over when Lemaster stepped down from the head-coaching job in 2008. Blayne left both the tennis and girls’ basketball jobs in 2010 to first enter private business and later to coach at Rosalia.

But things worked out for the Medical Lake native to once again come full circle.

“Its funny how Leroy and myself jumped back and forth with the program,” Blayne said. “The program was very fortunate to have Leroy return two years ago; he will always be an icon of Medical Lake tennis.”

As of the start of this week Blayne’s Cardinals are five matches into their season and will have seven in the books. ML’s 2-3 following wins over Deer Park (5-2) and Cheney (4-3) with losses in between to Lewis and Clark (7-0), Chewelah (4-3) and Pullman (5-1).

“We have a very inexperienced team and a new coaching staff,” Blayne said. Jason Hayes, a previous ML basketball and tennis player is the boys' JV coach.

The Cardinals lost experience with the graduation of Blake Andrews, Ismael Teshome and Jake Wesselman, all state qualifiers in 2012.

“Hunter Barr and Anton King will be the foundation of the team as they have the most experience,” Blayne said of two of his four seniors. “Hunter is a three-year varsity award winner and although Anton only started playing last year, his athleticism and natural talent have propelled him to No. 2 on the team and the most wins individually this year from one single player.”

Harrison Cochran and Nik Hofer are the other seniors.

Blayne is still working to get players into specific roles. Hofer, Cochran, Austin Brown and Dakota Houger have all seen time in doubles.

“It will be an interesting change moving into the Northeast A league and we are excited for the challenge of playing those schools,” Blayne said.

After no reported matches during spring break Medical Lake moves into the meat of its schedule with nonleague play at West Valley (April 9) and a trip to Lind-Ritzville-Sprague (April 11). April 15 starts a span with four straight NEA matches.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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