With sights set on playoffs, Miners’ Miller plans to ‘play every point like it’s the last’
Wade and Kellie Miller have watched more than their fair share of Nevada Union tennis matches.
In fact, considering they’ve provided the Miners program with three No. 1 singles players through the years, they might just be considered the first family of NU tennis.
Their latest offering to the program, their daughter Jaimie, is the third Miller girl to own the No. 1 singles slot.
By taking her match in straight sets Tuesday at Nevada Union, Miller led the Miners to a 5-4 victory over the visiting Oakmont Vikings and helped keep NU’s playoff hopes alive in what will be quite a hectic week in order to qualify.
With wins over third-place Del Oro today and second-place Rocklin on Thursday, the Miner might be able to climb from fourth place in the Sierra Foothill League standings and into a playoff berth.
“We have to win both matches and win them convincingly,” said second-year NU coach Nick Bodley, who has taken a team that finished second to last in 2007 and now the program in contention for the playoffs. “We want to be in the top three this year.
“One of the keys has been to make sure it’s fun. But another key thing is that it is regimented to the point that they while they’re having fun they learn how to hit and play the game. And the team is getting better at the same time.”
In Tuesday’s win, Miller won 6-0, 6-0 at the top spot, while Erika Kidera was a 6-1 6-0 winner at No. 3 singles and Logan Kidney won the No. 4 match 6-2, 6-1. Calynn Stanford won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 5 singles and Hayley Zucca won 7-5, 6-4 at the sixth slot.
It was the second-straight win for the Miners, who defeated Woodcreek 7-2 on Monday. Miller (6-2, 6-2), Kidera (6-1, 6-2), Kidney (6-4, 7-5), Stanford (6-0, 6-3), Zucca (6-0, 6-1) and O’Hara Cooper swept singles, while Heather Foote and Jordon Riley won 7-5, 6-1 in doubles.
“Nick’s put on an impressive program the last couple of years,” said Oakmont coach Kevin Chorjel. “Not that they didn’t before that, but there’s definitely been a surge.
“You could definitely see it with the guys (team) and now with the girls, too. It kind of sucks (for SFL opponents), but …”
Both Bodley and his top player are confident that his Miners can clear the two high hurdles they’ll face today and Thursday.
“I think if we just try our hardest and just have everyone have the mental toughness, we can do it,” Miller said. “We have to play like every ball counts and play every point like it’s the last.”
Miller, who played as a freshman when her sister, Brittanie, was leading the Miners from the top spot, said Bodley has helped bring the program along in fine fashion. She’s also been watching NU tennis for several years, as her oldest sister, Jessica, played from 2002-05.
Jessica went on to play at Sierra College, where she helped the Wolverines to a state junior college championship before transferring to Dominican University, where she earned the school’s Female Scholar Athlete of the Year Award last year. She’s now entering her first year of law school.
Brittanie Miller continues to take the court at Sierra College, where she’ll play as a sophomore in the spring. As a freshman, Brittanie won the Big 8 Conference Tournament singles championship and helped the Wolverines to a 15-0 record, including 8-0 in the Big 8. She plans to transfer to either the University of Nevada or San Jose State University, her parents said.
Like both of her sisters, Jaimie will likely play the top spot at NU from her sophomore through her senior seasons. But the junior seems more excited about improved level of play her entire team has shown in the past two seasons.
“It’s fun to see the team progress as a whole and to see everyone getting better and having fun,” she said. “It makes it better with everyone out there supporting each other.”
And the Miller girls know that when it comes to support, there’s been no place like home.
So how many matches have the Millers watched in the past seven years?
“Millions,” Kellie Miller said with a laugh. “All of them. And our girls play USTA, too.
“It’s stressful to be a tennis parent. I’ve enjoyed it, but I don’t know if I want to be that in my next life.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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