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Hard work paying off for Bear River

Keith Jiron

Chris Stafford missed the bus to the Bear River boys tennis team’s first match last season.

“He started out as a track guy, then he came over one day and asked if he could try out. I told him there were no try outs and just to come out and he’d be on the team. No problem,” Bear River co-coach Dave Morehouse said.

The bus was gassed and ready to go for the season-opener later on that month, but Stafford wasn’t going to be on it.

“He had been playing a little bit in practice, but he showed up for the first match and there wasn’t enough room in the van and I said, ‘I’m sorry, you’re the last guy, you’re No. 24 on the team, you can’t come.'”

The then-sophomore hit the practice court hard in coming weeks, eventually earning the No.6 singles spot by season’s end. Stafford continued to work at his game in the off-season and was rewarded for his efforts.

“He’s probably the greatest success story on our team. In two years he challenged his way from the bottom all the way up to the No. 2 spot,” Morehouse added.

Stafford, along with Bruin No.1 singles player Dan Moglen, will lead the charge when the Cardinal and Grey hits the courts at Johnson Ranch Racquet Club in Roseville for the Sierra Foothill League singles tournament Tuesday.

The doubles competition will take place Friday.

The top two singles players in each bracket, and top four doubles teams will qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II tournament May 9-11.

“Dan’s a conservative player. He plays the kind of game where he makes you beat him. And against most high school kids, he does very well because they like to overhit,” Morehouse said. “He’s getting better and better every week.”

The freshman duo of Wes Bollinger and Matt Travers will round out the Bruins singles contingent.

While the singles spot are all but sewn up, Morehouse and co-coach Jeff Carrow won’t have as easy a time choosing the four doubles teams for Friday’s competition.

Morehouse said Moglen and younger brother Marc, are the odds on favorites to fill the No.1 doubles spot.

Mike Lake, who ended the season in the No. 6 singles position along with freshman Andrew Tintle, Benton White, Kevin Davis, Nic Paolini, Jacob Ells and the Green twins, Anthony and Timothy, and all the three remaining singles players will fight it out for the the eight postseason spots.

“The doubles teams, we’re still going to kind of still be looking at. It’s going to be coach’s choice pretty much. (The kids) are looking for a partner they want to play with and I’m suggesting they find someone who can volley because most of our kids are good baseliners.”


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