The straight-line path of The Community School tennis team to May's State 3A tournament in Boise is likely to be easier but less interesting in 2005.
That's because arch-rival Wood River of Hailey has moved up to 4A this year, freeing up a good number of points at both the Fourth District and State 3A levels this spring.
"We have a strong team this year," said ninth-year Community School coach Mark Scribner about his new edition.
The Cutthroats have become a powerhouse in Idaho tennis, particularly in singles. They've won six of their 14 individual championships in boys' singles.
Scribner's squads have won three of the last four State 3A team championships and have averaged 69.6 points over an eight-year span—seven years of which The Community School has finished first or second.
The Cutthroats (51 points in singles) overwhelmed runner-up Parma 86-63 last year at state and boasted individual state championships in boys' singles (Tyler Martin) and mixed doubles (Luke Fostvedt and Mandy Alexander).
They're likely to do even better this spring with a strong returning cast and without the obstacle of Wood River. The Wolverines snapped the six-year district championship reign of The Community School 109-106 at Sun Valley.
Returning state singles king Martin, a senior, and junior Scooter Sabel will lead the boys' singles brigade. Sabel won the district title last May and finished second to Martin at the State 3A tournament.
Another senior, Caitlin Cairncross, won two state singles matches in 2004 and she will lead the Cutthroat girls' singles players this year.
Points in doubles have always been gravy for the Cutthroats—and they drenched their 2004 state championship with 35 points of doubles gravy.
Devon Bunce, a junior, shared the State 3A girls' doubles title with Jackie Safran while playing for Wood River. At The Community School, Bunce will match up with sophomore Mandy Alexander in a formidable doubles team.
The Community School has never won girls' doubles at state in 20 trips, but this could be the year with returning champs Bunce and Alexander.
Boys' doubles is looking strong with junior Wes Flanigan and sophomore Christian Cairncross, last year's district runner-up team that won three matches at state tennis. Also returning are state boys' doubles qualifiers Tyler Chandler, a junior, and senior Ben Roth.
A couple of seniors with state experience in mixed doubles are J.P. McNeal and Blake Ellis.
Besides the five returning seniors and four veteran juniors, Scribner has welcomed a promising group of new players including five juniors, one sophomore and six freshmen.
The Community School plays Wood River twice this season, starting Thursday, April 14, and will face tough competition at the Capital Invitational tourney April 29-30.