The Philomath High School boys tennis team has a bit of a foreign feel to it this spring.
As in, foreign-exchange students.
Now in his seventh year as head coach, Gary Quandt has three students from overseas impacting his roster, including German Leopold Thiele, who is challenging returning sophomore Colton Beckstead for the No. 1 singles spot.
"Those two guys are pretty close right now, so it'll be interesting," Quandt said Thursday as the boys prepare for their season opener Tuesday at Blanchet Catholic in Salem. "They're pretty solid back and forth and it'll be interesting to see where they go — the natural step up with Colton to be No. 1, but Leopold's strong as well."
Another German student, Antoine Feld, has joined returning sophomore Luke Haslam for a strong push for the No. 1 doubles spot. Pablo Gurturbay from Spain will start the season playing doubles with junior James Erickson.
"We're really set with four doubles teams right now," Quandt said. "I really think I have three doubles teams that on any given day could beat each other. Luke and Antoine, they'll have to prove it — we haven't done any challenge matches (as of Thursday) — but they look to be a pretty solid No. 1.
Interestingly, the Haslam family is hosting Feld and Erickson's family is hosting Gurturbay.
Junior Alec Stucki and freshman Nick Stucki will team up as doubles partners as well. Seniors Reagan Schaeffer and Travis Crousser-Etzel are also in the mix.
Back to singles, junior Jeremy Alston looks like he'll start the season in the No. 3 spot. Quandt hasn't made any decisions on No. 4 singles with "about four others fighting it out for time on the court."
"We're going to be a pretty deep team," Quandt said. "We're going to win matches down low."
The girls return some fire power as well with Gabi Beckstead back for her senior season.
"She's No. 1 singles pretty much hands down there," Quandt said. "She has a chance of qualifying for state as one of the better players returning in the district. She didn't quite make it in there last year."
Junior Lindsay Schell and junior Ella Skinkis are two other key returnees.
"I might not play them in doubles. They might want to play some singles. The boys are falling into place really nicely, really easy," Quandt said about the lineup. "The girls are still up for grabs right now."
Sophomores Maddie Melton and Selah Carlisle are two others who played some good tennis last year and return. Junior Madison Francis, senior Zoe Boynton, junior Emma Nelson and junior Kena Bacho are back as well to impact the lineup.
Quandt said he also has a pretty good freshman class coming in with a couple that will be in contention for playing time, such as Ari Manning, and twins Amelia and Claire Skinkis.
In all, Quandt has 21 girls out for tennis this spring, the most he's ever had. There are 16 boys on the preseason roster.
Off the court, Tyler Haslam has joined the program as an assistant coach. Michael Fortune and Anna Rose Peterson have returned to help as well.
The Warriors are scheduled to host North Bend and Marshfield Saturday on the courts at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis.
The girls will head to the coast Saturday to open their season for matches against North Bend and Marshfield.