Tennis squads set season goals
Two of the three local high school tennis teams will need big wins this season to make the playoffs.
Forest Lake Christian is coming off of two straight seasons in which it dominated its league, while Bear River’s last two attempts at the playoffs have been spoiled by narrow margins.
Nevada Union, meanwhile, is hoping to win at least a match in the Metro League after going winless last year.
It’s been two straight years that Bear River’s co-ed tennis team has missed the playoffs by one spot, finishing second behind Pioneer Valley League giant Mira Loma and rival Colfax.
This year’s road to the postseason might be more difficult than it’s been the last couple years, after the top three boys graduated.
But Garrett Gregory, who has taken command of the No. 1 boys singles position, is leading the Bruins (1-2).
“Garrett brings a lot of talent to the team,” said head coach Jeff Carrow who is in his first year as the primary coach after previously co-coaching with Dave Morehouse.
Carrow has a lot to choose from this year, with 40 players on the team. Only 14 play in each varsity match.
The current singles lineup has Cameron Lewis as the No. 2 boy, Miki Kono as No. 1 girl, and Katherine Erickson the No. 2 girl.
Boys doubles is led by the No. 1 team of Rick Fowler and Pat Miller, with Alex Fischer and Andrew Thorpe playing at No. 2.
The No. 1 girls doubles team, which has not lost this season, consists of Marie Paquin and Jasmine Davis. Ashley Lowe and Aleah Madsen combine for the No. 2 girls doubles team, which lost its first match of the season Monday against Mira Loma.
In mixed doubles, Neil Erickson and Jeane McAteer make a team which has won most of its matches through the early part of the season.
The story so far has been similar to the last couple years, as the Bruins have already dropped matches to Colfax and Mira Loma. Their lone victory was against Lincoln.
But Carrow expects that to change, and soon, thanks to his players on the lower end of the lineup.
“We’re deep,” he said. “We might not be great up top, but we’re deep.”
But on the top of the girls side, Kono is plenty good. As soon as the Japanese exchange student joined the team it was clear who the No. 1 girls player would be.
“Miki’s a baseline, top-spinning queen,” Carrow said. “She’s got a good net game, but her main strength is pure consistency. She can just sit back there and nail that thing. She’s going to be really good playing on the baseline.”
With 10 matches left in the season, Bear River needs more than just a couple players to win consistently. The Bruins’ chance to even their record comes Tuesday at Mesa Verde.
Forest Lake Christian
It won’t be anything new if Forest Lake Christian’s tennis team storms through the Golden Empire League into the playoffs this year, but it won’t be easy.
The Falcons (3-2) won the GEL the last two seasons, which is impressive considering the program has only existed for four years. But the team has taken a step back this year in experience. This is the youngest team Steve Robinson has coached.
“We’re not necessarily in position to win league, but I’m optimistic,” Robinson said. “I wouldn’t say we’re not in the running, but we’re going to be doing well to get into the top three.”
Inderkum, Marysville and Lindhurst are Forest Lake Christian’s primary opposition to a third-straight GEL crown.
Nick Coibion has the most know-how to lead the Falcons to victory, but after him experience is hard to find. Coibion is the only senior on a team with 10 juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen.
Last year Coibion was the No. 2 boys singles player, making a leap up the ladder the least severe.
Megan Wieczorek, the No. 1 girl and captain of the team, played in the No. 1 doubles spot last year.
“Megan’s really worked on her game,” Robinson said. “She played a lot over the summer … she’s just a blessing to have on the team.”
Coibion also trained over the summer, resulting in great expectations.
“Nick has high goals,” Robinson said. “He’s going for a (United States Tennis Association) ranking in NorCal.”
Beyond the top players, though, much of the team is depleted.
On the girls side, the top four players from last year graduated, while last year’s No. 1, 2 and 4 boys were all seniors.
Jenny Johnson, No. 2 girls singles, is Robinson’s top girls player after Wieczorek.
“Jenny would have made the jump to No. 3 even had so many girls not moved on,” Robinson said.
Through five matches the Falcons have demonstrated that they make a solid team, but they’re far from the group of the last couple years which barely lost in league.
In a make-up game Golden Sierra plays at Forest Lake Christian on Monday at 3 p.m. The Falcons can make it two straight wins after beating Capital Christian 7-1 on Thursday.
This year’s Nevada Union boys tennis team might not be destined for the playoffs, but there is still plenty for which to work.
And after going through the Metro League winless last year, there is nothing to get but better.
The first step, according to Miners coach Mike Blake, is winning some Metro matches. But that hasn’t happened yet, as NU is 0-2 in league and 1-4 overall.
Eli Waggoner, at the No. 1 singles spot, is the Miners’ leader. He is one of nine seniors on team, including Jasper Fredrickson, who recently beat classmate Jordan Stratigakes to move from the No. 3 singles spot to No. 2. Senior Chris Edwards, the No. 5 singles player, did not play last year but managed to make the top six on his team.
Will Harvey is the top senior playing doubles. At the No. 1 spot Harvey plays alongside Joey Beedy.
The No. 3 and No. 4 doubles teams are made entirely of seniors, including Matt Pistone and Evan Rosky (No. 3), and Sarav Patel and Andy Tweed (No. 4).
Caleb Goodman (No. 4 singles) is playing the highest of any juniors. Chris Greiner (No. 6) fills the final singles hole.
Bo Jacobson and Joseph Schumacher play at the No. 2 doubles spot, and Kevan Varsky and Hunter Jones are currently playing No. 5 doubles.
Blake said his team’s best chances for points are in the lower doubles positions, but he believes most of his players can win when playing their best.
“I would say that our top six or seven, any one of them could play No. 1 on any given day,” Blake said.
But Waggoner has worked hard for his top spot, coming off of an arm injury which made him change his approach to tennis.
“(Waggoner) was building a hard-hitting power game,” Blake said. “But he’s had to change that to more of a touch game.
“In a way he’ll be a better play for it. It requires more patience and strategy.”
But Blake feels that the Miners are capable of winning matches in the Metro.
“It’s a really even team,” Blake said. “I think we’re a little deeper. We should be a little bit stronger in our doubles because of that depth as well … that’s how we’re going to be competitive, with those lower doubles teams.”
The tough competition the Metro features is highlighted by Granite Bay and Yuba City. NU has already lost 9-0 to both teams.
“It’s going to be a tough year,” Blake said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us.”
Nevada Union’s next match is at 3:45 p.m. at home Tuesday against McClatchy.
To contact sportswriter Jeff Miller, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
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Highly successful postseason runs come to an end for local Little League teams