DEREK CLARKSTON/Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak’s Max Pyles hits a tennis ball during practice Tuesday at Baranof Park. 

Kodiak tennis — the defending Region III champions — opened the season Thursday in the Mat-Su Valley. 

Kodiak faced region runner-up Colony Thursday, and will battle Palmer today and Wasilla Saturday. 

Prior to departing for the first matches of the season, veteran Kodiak coach Steve Johnston said his team was stocked with experience. The Bears return five players who captured regional titles last season and advanced to the state tournament. 

“A lot of the team that did really well last season is back,” Johnston said. “They are hitting stronger and a bit more consistently.”

Johnston was referring to Max Pyles, Josh Barnett, Ila Abad, Bella Goble and Luanna Velasco, who all picked up regional crowns last season. 

The coach has been impressed with the leadership of that group. 

“They are acting really professional,” Johnston said.

Kassie Agonoy, Janny Eng, Alexia Francisco, Lanz Francisco, Mya Luera, Hiromi Kageyama and Gabriel Nelson also traveled on the season-opening trip. 

The Bears return to the mainland for the Anchorage Invitational next weekend. 

The coach is hoping to make noise again when the Region III Championships start Sept. 24 in Anchorage. Kodiak won four of the five divisions last year. 

“It would be nice to repeat, but we did make our statement last year.” 



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