Vikings believe it is their time
All of the prerequisites are present.
Players requesting challenge matches. Playoff-tested seniors. A willingness to work. Depth. Veteran coaching.
South Tahoe High’s girls’ tennis has the composition for a special season in 2010, and the Vikings won’t receive the benefit of a realigned league to help their standing.
A year after advancing to the Northern Regional Tournament quarterfinals, the Vikings 13 players, including five players who contributed to six of the team’s points in an 11-7 playoff loss to McQueen.
“The nice thing is that I don’t have to worry about putting all of my strength in singles or all of my strength in doubles. We have enough strength for both,” said STHS coach Jenny Clark.
Only a week into preseason practices, Clark said neither of her previous two teams displayed the competitive fire the current one is demonstrating.
“They are realizing how important challenge matches are,” Clark said. “They will come up and say, ‘Coach, we want to play so and so today. Did you get our score from yesterday’s match?
“The competitiveness with the team is building, but what they want, they want a good, solid team. They’re not just looking at ‘I want to be a good singles player.'”
Leading the Vikings are seniors Rebecca Roberts, Amanda Rives, Angel Aquino and Mariella Penollar. Aquino said that the timing couldn’t be better for a stellar season.
“We’re really excited because we’ve worked really hard ever since sophomore year,” Aquino said.
They senior quartet brings a collective 14 years of varsity experience to the team and the leadership qualities to share with six returning juniors, three returning sophomores and five freshmen.
“I know that is a pretty popular quote, but it’s true,” Clark said of her senior leadership. “Last year we had a really strong team, but we had a young team. I think they know that it’s their year.”
Roberts, the team’s top returning singles player, said the Vikings’ goal is to seize one of the North’s two state tournament berths.
“That’s our goal and to improve as a team all together,” Roberts said. “It’s going to take practices outside of practice … extra work.”
For Aquino, the freshmen – the Vikings’ foundation for the future – are learning the keys to being successful when they are juniors and seniors.
“I’m liking what I see. They are really enthusiastic. They come out to practice every day and work hard. They are really determined to get good,” Aquino said.
Added Rives, “They’re going to help us. By their senior year they are going to be good and help Tahoe rebuild and keep up there.”
By the time the crucial matches roll around in late September and early October, South Tahoe will be able to show off one of the sharpest, new tennis facilities in their league. Until then, some of South Tahoe’s home matches will be played at South Tahoe Middle School while construction of six new courts on school property are completed.
Money to rebuild the tennis courts was realized by allowing construction workers to park on the site of the olds courts while building the Construction, Art and Transportation Academy and the Fine and Performing Arts Complex. Lake Tahoe Unified School District reallocated the money saved from the cost of providing parking elsewhere for construction workers as well as transportation and lost time on the job.
Boys’ tennis coach Justin Clark, who assists with the girls’ program, said that three of the courts are nearly completed, and the project should be completed in a couple of weeks..
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