Coming off the program’s first district championship since 2002, the Brownwood Lions and Lady Lions are looking for a team tennis repeat as the season kicks off this weekend in Copperas Cove.

Brownwood will battle Killeen Ellison, Copperas Cove and San Angelo Lake View in pool play, then square off against either Killeen High, Harker Heights or Lampasas — the equivalent finisher in the other pool — in the finale.

Though Brownwood lost three Lions and three Lady Lions to graduation, second-year head coach Crystal Blazek feels the team is poised to make another run at a district championship.

“Expectations are high, we expect to win district again,” Blazek said. “We lost three boys and three girls, so we have some young spots to fill down low but I feel like we can.”

Among the key returnees for the Lions are Mo Goff, Oscar Ledesma, and Matthew Bundick, while returning Lady Lions expected to take on an expanded role are Mckinzie Adkins, Lillian Jonescue, and Kaylee Renfroe.

Following the four matches in Copperas Cove, Brownwood will tangle with Midland Greenwood, Sweetwater, Wichita Falls High, Graham, Killeen High, Marble Falls, Liberty Hill and Lampasas prior to the start of league play. Other non-district foes down the road include Seminole, Snyder and Gatesville.

“I’d just like to see us playing together,” Blazek said of the early season goals. “There’s a bunch of new combinations for doubles so I want to see how we work together and find the right combinations before district starts.”

District 7-4A will look noticeably different this season as Stephenville is fielding a team this year, while Brock joins the league as well.

“Brock petitioned the UIL to play up in Class 4A so they’ll be good competition this year and the first ones right off the bat,” said Blazek in regard to the Sept. 5 league opener, which will also serve as Brownwood’s first home match.

The Lions and Lady Lions will later challenge Glen Rose there on Sept. 9, host Mineral Wells on Sept. 18, meet Godley in Glen Rose on Sept. 23 and clash with Stephenville in Brownwood on Sept. 30.

“Brock will be our biggest challenge,” Blazek said. “Stephenville is joining the district for team tennis, too, they weren’t in there last year, so it’ll be good to play more teams. I’m sure Glen Rose will put out a solid team, and Godley will, too.”