New roadblock for defending Metro Conference champs
Last year was Mike Blake’s most successful season among the five he has been the head coach of Nevada Union’s girls tennis team. And, considering, he lost only one key player to graduation, it might be easy to expect his team as the favorite to repeat as Metro Conference champions.
Not so fast, though, Blake said.
The fact that the Miners lost Lindsay Croft, half of last year’s No. 1 doubles team – a spot that has been filled by senior Stephanie Brumett, who will team up with sophomore Emily Ramsey – is one change for the Miners.
But the bigger issue for the Miners and their repeat run at a league championship is the Granite Bay High School’s debut season of competition in the Metro.
Granite Bay, formerly a perennial powerhouse in the Sierra Foothill League – battling most years against Placer for the SFL title- joins the Metro field this fall. The newcomer Grizzlies will match up with Metro foes Yuba City, Kennedy and Nevada Union.
“(Granite Bay) is definitely a force to be reckoned with,” Blake said. “Now they’re in our league – they’re just a really good program.”
NU has plenty of weapons of its own to combat Granite Bay, as the lion’s share of the roster is capable of playing with most in the league.
The Miners have a steady one-two punch in singles, with senior Jessica Miller at No. 1 and Eva Paulusberger, an exchange student from Austria, at No. 2.
Combined with the doubles team, featuring Ramsey and Brumett, Miller and Paulusberger should handle their own, Blake said.
A Nevada Union graduate himself, Blake won the doubles section title in 1972 when he teamed up with Stu Paine. Since then, NU tennis titles have come rarely. The biggest achievement of the last decade was Alisse Ali-Christie’s singles section championship in 1999.
Although ultimate success has not been as regular as Blake might like, he still views it as one of many Miner traditions worthy of praise.
With league action opening for NU Tuesday, Blake hopes to see the program’s success grow.
The Miners’ Metro dominance of last season will be hard to repeat, however, with what Blake expects to be evenly matched teams in the Metro Conference.
“If we only win a game 6-3,” he said, “we’ll be like, ‘Wow, that’s a blowout!'”
Nevada Union girls
Coach: Mike Blake
Last season: Metro Conference champions
Top newcomers: Emily Ramsey, Eva Paulusberger
Outlook: “It’s going to be fun, every match is going to be tough … if they’re returning to form we should be OK.”
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