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Miners continue to climb into contention

This will be the second season that Mike Blake has been at the helm of Nevada Union’s varsity boys tennis team. Blake is hardly a new face around Nevada Union though, after serving as head coach of the girls program for the past six years.

It did take some time for Blake and NU’s boys to get comfortable with each other last spring, as the Miners struggled to a 2-6 record in Metro Conference action. But Blake said the progress his program made last year cannot be measured in the final win-loss mark.

“The kids knew it was going to be a tough year,” Blake said. “The thing to me is we’re just trying to get better in every match. These boys have been through a couple of coaches before me. They needed some stability, which is why I wanted to (coach them). I love this game and I think it’s a great for kids to play and I just wanted to see the program stabilized.”



The consistency of having the same coaching staff in charge each season has helped NU’s girls program rise to higher levels in recent years. Last fall, Blake led the Miners to a second place finish in the Metro Conference and guided NU into the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals, the furthest an NU girls team had ever advanced in section competition.

Down the road, Blake hopes to see similar strides on the boys’ side.




“I would hope that the boys would see that and want to have that kind of success,” Blake said. “I think they can kind of relate. Some off the girls have come down to hit with the guys. The girls program has had a lot of success, but they’ve had down times, too.”

Blake will have a young team on the court again this season, as just three seniors – Nick Cartan, Derek Smith and Rob Totoonchie – are in the lineup, but six players are back from last spring. And, Blake said, all six are evenly matched.

Jordan Stratigakas holds the top singles spot, while Jasper Fredrickson and Eli Waggoner hold down the No. 2 and No. 3 singles positions, respectively. Caleb Goodman plays the four spot, while Cartan and Smith is at five and six singles, respectively.

NU (1-6 overall) travels to El Dorado today for a non-league matchup.

Bear River

Like Nevada Union’s varsity boys team, Bear River’s co-ed team is anchored by a deep pool of talent that the Bruins’ co-head coaches believe will help lift the team to the top of the Pioneer Valley League race.

“Historically, some of the teams we play will have a great player at No. 1 singles, but their mixed doubles players can’t pick up a racquet,” said Bruin co-head coach Jeff Carrow, who has been leading the Bruins alongside coach Dave Morehouse for the past five years. “We can go eight, nine, 10 deep and still have people who can hit the ball.”

That depth begins at the top with Wes Bollinger, Matt Travers and Andrew Tintle playing at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 singles positions, respectively. On the girls side’ Slovakian exchange student Petra Veghova holds the top spot, while Katherine Erickson and Amanda Remillard round out the singles lineup at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively.

Six members from last year’s squad, which went 5-7 overall – after a 4-2 start to the season – return this spring, which the Bruins hope will help lift them into what Carrow said could be a three-way race atop the PVL.

“Colfax is improved and Mira Loma is the two-time defending champion,” Carrow said. “We always get a lot better over the course of the season, but those are the teams to beat.”

The Bruins (2-1) host Oakmont in their PVL season opener at 3 p.m. today.

___

Nevada Union

Coach: Mike Blake (second year)

2004 finish: 2-6 Metro Conference, no playoffs

Returning starters: 6; Jordan Stratigakas, Jasper Fredrickson, Eli Waggoner, Caleb Goodman, Nick Cartan, Derek Smith.

Coach Blake says: “We can’t get hung up on a win-loss record. We have to look at it as we’re a work in progress. We have to keep improving and keep working hard.”

Bear River

Co-head coaches: Jeff Carrow, Dave Morehouse (fifth year)

2004 finish: 5-7, no playoffs

Returning starters: 6; Wes Bollinger, Andrew Tintle, Matt Travers, Hannah Ells, Amanda Remillard, Katherine Erickson.

Coach Carrow says: “Historically, some of the teams we play will have a great player at No. 1 singles, but their mixed doubles players can’t pick up a racquet. We can go eight, nine, 10 deep and still have people who can hit the ball.”


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