Daughter serves up loss for mom in love-ly match of Hixenbaughs
Considering the competition, Carson High’s 13-9 tennis loss to host South Tahoe on Tuesday wasn’t as tough on coach Linda Hixenbaugh as an observer might expect.
“It isn’t, because I love all the kids on both teams,” Linda Hixenbaugh said after South Tahoe’s girls – including Hixenbaugh’s daughter, Shauna – beat her Carson team. “It’s really kind of fun to be here and know everybody.”
Shauna, a sophomore, helped the Vikings pick up three points over the team her mother coaches. She joined her partner, senior Lisa Borges, for two doubles wins: one over Jamie White and Allison Shell in the second round and another over Cassie Baker and Jouliana Kourenkova in the third.
“It’s so weird because I know all the girls because I’ve played them before,” Shauna said. “It’s so competitive.”
Shauna’s mother had a chance to watch her daughter in only one match Tuesday, and Carson took a win. Amanda Hoff and Kristin Foley, the top-seeded Senators in doubles, defeated Hixenbaugh and Borges 6-3 in the first round.
Shauna called Carson one of the nicest teams the Vikings play, and Linda said she supports the girls on both teams. While both mother and daughter seem to enjoy some aspects of the meetings, one official match is plenty for both coach and player.
“It’s really tough,” said Linda, who lives in South Lake Tahoe. “Very tough.”
“I’d rather not play them, because it’s so hard with my mom here,” Shauna said.
Still, Carson plans on bringing its zone players up the hill to scrimmage South Tahoe’s zone qualifiers, to provide both teams with a greater variety of experience heading into the tournament. The exposure could benefit both sides while avoiding any difficulties inherent in competition. With the schools just half an hour apart, the teams already know quite a bit about each other. But there’s no gag order on discussing tennis in the Hixenbaugh household, and both coach and player know what to expect on the court.
“She’ll tell me how good her team is, and I’ll tell her about my team,” Shauna said. “We’re always prepared to play each other.”
But once the match starts, it’s a different world. Technically, coaches can instruct their players only on changeovers, so both teams stick to advising their own players.
“When it comes to playing, I kind of stand off to the side,” Linda said. “Let it all happen.”
Linda described the Hixenbaughs as a “tennis family.” Linda is ranked in northern California among female players in their 40s. Both of Linda’s parents are pros, and are ranked in seniors competition. Nor is Shauna the first Hixenbaugh sibling to pass through South Tahoe’s program: Shauna’s sister Chrystal graduated last spring, and brother E.J. was a Viking netman before his sisters played. So it’s no surprise the members occasionally run into each other on the court.
“I’m proud of both teams, and it’s nice to be a part of working with all the girls, and I support all of them,” Linda said.
“It makes it better for all of us.”
Still, once a year is enough.
“It’s so intense because the pressure’s on,” Shauna said.
On Tuesday, the younger generation had the upper hand, as Shauna and South Tahoe’s other doubles players carried the day for the Vikings. “That was, I think, the turning factor,” said South Tahoe head coach Tom Barnes.
Nikki Moore and Lauren Stevens were the team’s top doubles performers, winning all three of their matches: 6-1, 6-1, 6-4. Shauna Hixenbaugh and Borges were 2-1 on the day, losing only to Carson’s top-seeded singles team, and Kristen Kirkland and Larissa La Rue, South Tahoe’s youngest doubles team, defeated Baker and Kourenkova 6-1 for a doubles win. South Tahoe’s doubles teams have responded since Barnes shuffled the partners a few matches ago.
“It’s just worked a whole lot better,” Borges said.
Freshman Samantha Crosson, playing as South Tahoe’s third seed, also notched a win for the Vikings, beating Carson’s third seed, Catarina Farron, in the first round. South Tahoe’s third seeds provided the depth the team needed.
“(They) are both really, really strong for us,” Barnes said. “For us to have a couple of freshmen doing well is a sign of our program getting a little stronger, and the girls are growing in terms of their skill.”
South Tahoe improved to 6-2 on the season in winning its final home match, while Carson fell to 3-4. The Vikings resume their schedule Monday, when they travel to Douglas for a 3:30 p.m. match. The zone championship tournament is Oct. 11-12.
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