For his 25th and final season as School of the Osage tennis coach, Scott Blacksher will have a team loaded with experience — one that hopes to surpass the accomplishments of the 2013 team.

That will be a mighty task, as the 2013 team qualified for state as a group, additionally sending a doubles team to the state tournament. But losing just one player to graduation, the Indians return five of six varsity players — and they all return improved.

“I expect it to be a good season. We have a reasonable goal to make it to post-season play,” Blacksher said.

Senior Thomas Uhl returns as the Indians’ top player. Uhl qualified for the state tournament in singles as a sophomore, but missed out last year by just a couple points. He returns more powerful in 2014 and poised to make the state tournament that eluded him as a junior.

“His serve is even bigger this year,” Blacksher said.” “I expect him to do just fine at number one.”

At number two, senior Ryan Curran’s serve has also improved tremendously. Blacksher said Curran grew as a player in the off season by participating in camps at Southwest Baptist University.

Another anchor on the team, senior Adam Keith will play in the third slot. Compared to the beginning of the 2013 season, Blacksher said Keith’s performances is exceptional.

“He’s hitting the ball with better precision this year,” Blacksher said.

Two newcomers to tennis last year have also impressed Blacksher as the 2014 season begins.

Sophomores Jordan Wilson and Adam Schoening will play at numbers four and five. Blacksher said Schoening, who picked up the sport for the first time last year, has improved more than anyone has in one year’s time.

The final spot on the varsity squad is held by sophomore Phillip Kirby, but Blacksher said Roman Trowbridge may challenge Kirby — an athlete in other sports, but not tennis prior to 2014 — for the spot during the season.

Noted by the Lake Sun a year ago as the number one prep sport to watch this spring, multiple Indians have their eyes on another appearance at the state level.

“I’m sure my top three have an expectation to get there,” Blacksher said. Last year, Keith and Curran were knocked out of the first round of the doubles tournament after a lively match against eventual semifinalists from John Burroughs.

Keith and Curran had the fewest matches together of any team in the state tournament last year, and Blacksher hasn’t lined out if they’ll vie for a spot in the state tournament as a team or as individuals. That decision will come later in the season.

But for now, Blacksher is enjoying his final season as coach.

“I have a really nice group of boys,” he said. “For my final season, this could go down as my favorite group of boys.”

The Indians open play Friday against Boonville.