By Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor
When Pat Fagen switched from boys to girls tennis coach in the offseason, South Tahoe High’s boys’ program faced an uncertain future.
Despite the hiring of a new coach, the implementation of new strength-and conditioning exercises and more than half of the roster new to the program, the Viking boys are poised for a successful future.
Kyle Horvath, the head tennis pro at Glenbrook the past two years, has succeeded Fagen, bringing fresh ideas and energy to the program.
“I really enjoy Kyle because the more instruction that you can get from a wide variety of people, the more you are going to take in and put into action on the court,” said freshman Nathan Garofalos.
Horvath has been itching to get into high school tennis.
“High school tennis was the next step in the progression. I’ve been looking forward to it for about five years,” Horvath said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys either. Pat did a great job coaching them with their work ethic, skills and fundamentals.”
Even though several players have left the team, Horvath is confident the Vikings can get it done with 12 players.
“My goal right now is to keep the intensity up throughout the entire season,” Horvath said. “I have no expectations for this season other than to develop them into good tennis players and good adults.”
On Wednesday, Horvath didn’t let a little John McEnroe-like outburst gain a foothold on his team. After witnessing a player throw a racket, Horvath indicated that he won’t hesitate to drop an immature player from the team.
“Being on a tennis team in high school means so much more than learning how to hit a ball,” he said. “So much is your personal development, your sportsmanship development and your mental development.”
Junior Marcale Jones, a third-year varsity player, is excited about the potential of this year’s team.
“I’m pretty excited because last year we had a winning season, but it wasn’t a good season and this year everybody says we’re gonna have a real good season,” he said.
The Vikings welcome back five players from last year’s team that produced three zone participants. Jason Schmedes, a junior, is the only Viking who competed at zone a year ago. Hans Mayer, Clayton Cole and Jamie Moore are the other returners along with Jones.
Schmedes, Mayer and Garofalos are the leading candidates to play singles. Horvath may opt to use Schmedes in doubles, where he could pair up with Zach Kropf to form the No. 1 team. The No. 2 team figures to be Moore and Jones, while Cole and Greg Gaskin are in position to secure the No. 3 doubles spot.
Renown tennis coach Nick Bolliteri and other world-class coaches imparted their knowledge to Horvath while he was attending Professional Tennis Management in Michigan learning how to become a successful teaching pro.
Consequently, his 12 players are doing a lot of short static movements, lunges, wall-sits to facilitate explosive first steps.
“It’s the same type of footwork training that pros like (Pete) Sampras and (Andre) Agassi would be doing as well,” Horvath said.
With that foundation for his players, Horvath can’t wait to see how his team will do when the season begins Tuesday when the Vikings play host to Spanish Springs.
“I just try to keep my hopes up that they are gonna play as well as they can and improve as much as they can,” Horvath said. “I don’t think we’ll be any less competitive. If anything, we will be more competitive this year.”
STHS boys’ tennis schedule
Date Foe/Site Time
Sept. 2 SPANISH SPRINGS 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 4 At Reno 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 NORTH VALLEYS 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 At Hug 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 At Manogue 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 NORTH TAHOE 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 At Carson 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 WOOSTER 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 DOUGLAS 3:30 p.m.
Note: Home games are in ALL CAPS.