Experience on Vikings’ side | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Experience on Vikings’ side

Jeremy Evans

South Tahoe High boys’ tennis coach Kyle Horvath has plenty to be excited about this season. He returns his top three singles players from last year, all of whom won at least one match at the 2004 zone tournament. Then his top two doubles teams are made of up experienced seniors who also got a taste of zone.

“Even though we have an old doubles squad, I would imagine our singles is where our strength is at right now,” said Horvath, whose team finished second last year in the Sierra Division. “This is probably our toughest squad I’ve had here. The practice level, when the intensity level is up to where it should be, my kids are hitting at an experienced, adult level.”

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Galena and Reno, the top two teams in the Northern 4A last year, are reloading. The defending zone champion Grizzlies lost in the 4A state championship game and the Huskies lost to eventual state champion Palo Verde in the state semifinals.

In the next 10 days, South Tahoe plays Galena, Reno and 2004 zone qualifier Douglas. The Vikings host the Grizzlies today at 3 p.m.

“Galena is going to be tough,” Horvath said. “Galena, Reno and Douglas, those three schools are going to be ridiculous. Reno’s got a huge squad. Even if they graduate a lot of people, which they did, they’ve got a ton of guys coming up. Galena is the same way. They draw from a very tennis-affluent community.”

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Hoping to neutralize the valley schools will be a talented group of Vikings.

The teams of Clayton Cole and Greg Gaskin and Jamie Moore and Hans Mayer should both return to zone this year and be favored to win matches. Moore won a match at zone last year with partner Marcale Jones, who graduated. The Vikings’ No. 3 doubles team is made up of junior Nick Noomen and sophomore Tyler Venema.

“I definitely feel pretty confident about this year’s team,” said Moore, who will be a team captain for a third straight year. “I played with Marcale for three years, but I feel real comfortable with Hans. We’re clicking already and hopefully we’ll go far in zone.”

Horvath’s singles’ lineup has him most excited. Sophomore Jimmy Roberts, who was the team’s No. 1 player as a freshman, will be pressured by No. 2 Nathan Garofalos and No. 3 Zach Kropf. Garofalos and Kropf each won first-round matches at zone last year as sophomores.

Roberts spent July at the Sylvano Tennis Academy in the Bay Area playing against the top players in Northern California. It capped off a busy summer for the 15-year-old Roberts, who is ranked 61st in United States Tennis Association’s Northern California 16 and under division.

“I think we have a chance to do well as a team,” said Roberts, who advanced to the zone quarterfinals as a freshman. “We’ve been working really hard with our coaches on a lot of things. I really want to win zone this year. I have a lot more confidence this year. Just having another year of experience should really help.”

Horvath will use junior Matul Patel and three freshman players in Donnie Goodyear, Jake Leonard and Jared Kolar to help push his top players. Sophomore Nick Smith and Sean Brower are South Tahoe’s faces of the future.

“Both Nick and Sean are our up-and-coming players,” Horvath said. “Both players are knocking on the door. I am a little bit more trustworthy in my singles about their consistent level of play. I don’t distrust my doubles, but they fluctuate up and down. We have a good shot this year.”

STHS File

Coach: Kyle Horvath, third season

Last year: Didn’t qualify as a team for zone tournament but qualified several singles players and doubles teams.

Key returners: Jimmy Roberts, Zach Kropf, Nathan Garofalos, Hans Mayer, Jamie Moore, Greg Gaskin and Clayton Cole.

Key to season: Can a talented and experienced group of singles and doubles players improve on last year’s performance and advance deep into the zone tournament?

Opener: Today vs. Galena at STHS, 3 p.m.

STHS Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Today Galena 3 p.m.

Thursday Reno 3 p.m.

Sept. 6 Douglas 3 p.m.

Sept. 8 Hug 3 p.m.

Sept. 13 Carson 3 p.m.

Sept. 15 Wooster 3 p.m.

Sept. 20 North Tahoe 3 p.m.

Sept. 22 Damonte 3 p.m.

Sept. 27 North Valleys 3 p.m.

Sept. 29 Truckee 3 p.m.

Oct. 4 Zone TBA

Oct. 20 State TBA

Note: Home games are in bold.

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