Lompoc tennis coach Paul Gaudreault doesn't pull any punches when talking about the league situation for the Braves in 2020.
"I don't like it all," Gaudreault said during Monday's match against Orcutt Academy at Hancock College. "What I don't like is that we have to go down there, and we could play our best match, and we'll still get creamed. I just feel like we go down there to eat dinner. They don't like it, we don't like it."
Gaudreault and the Braves have six Channel League matches against the three Santa Barbara area schools: Santa Barbara High, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos. San Marcos is in Division 1 and Santa Barbara and San Marcos are both in Division 2.
Lompoc High is in Division 4 once again this year. The rest of the league features Santa Ynez (Division 3) and rival Cabrillo (Division 5).
Gaudreault feels the league is too unbalanced, noting that the Santa Barbara City schools will likely feature guys who play tennis year round, something his program lacks.
"I felt that I could improve this team and we could take a few years and eventually compete," Gaudreault said. "But the problem is that my boys don't play tennis year round. They play soccer and other sports. When the tennis season is over, they put their rackets away."
Gaudreault, who came to Lompoc from Long Beach a couple years ago, has done his part to bring a little more awareness to the sport and to Lompoc High. He's run multiple free tennis clinics through the City of Lompoc. Still, the program will lag behind the rest of the Channel League.
Gaudreault feels Lompoc is a much better fit with the old Los Padres League teams, like Santa Maria, Orcutt Academy and Nipomo.
"We'd love to come back up in this league," Gaudreault said Monday during a non-league match against Orcutt Academy.
Gaudreault says the team aims to have a .500 record this season and they look at it that the Braves start the season 0-6, with six losses to the top three Channel League teams.
"We want to get enough non-conference wins to offset the six losses we're going to have in league against Santa Barbara, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos," Gaudreault said. "Some of them are Division 1 and we're Division 4. Again, we could play our hearts out and still get creamed. We have to get enough wins that we can have a .500 record. We have to beat Righetti on Thursday to get to 2-2, that makes us 2-8 with the six league losses. So we have to beat Cabrillo like we have, we have to beat Santa Ynez. That could get us to 6-8. If we can beat Paso Robles and Nipomo that will get us to 8-8. Maybe we can get in that Division 4 playoff.
"I feel that if my team can play against Division 4 teams we'd do fine. I'd love to go against Division 4 teams. But we're going against Division 1, D2, D3. We beat Division 3 teams."
Gaudreault says there is some tennis talent in the Lompoc Valley, particularly his player Anthony Morales, who earned Second Team All-League honors a year ago. Morales, Anthony Oseguera, Colin Poncelet, Elijah Kamery, Anthony Espinosa and Josiah Salcedo all started against Orcutt Academy on Monday.
"There are some decent players out here and there are some decent kids coming up at the youth level, in the seventh and eighth grade," Gaudreault said.
The Braves are scheduled to host Righetti in a non-league match on Thursday at 3 p.m.
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