Long, Roberts ready for state tournament
Masha Long has yet to lose this season. Jimmy Roberts hasn’t lost since the first week of the season.
Both streaks will be put to the test on Friday when the South Tahoe High tennis stars play in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament at the Reno Tennis Center.
“She’s had a good week of practice and she’s excited about getting to play again,” STHS girls’ coach Pat Fagen said of Long. “She learned a lot at state last year and she saw the girls weren’t that much better than her.”
Long, who lost in the quarterfinals last year to The Meadows’ Veronica Kawka, is the Northern Region champion and plays Sunrise Region runner-up Julia Baltas of Liberty on Friday at 3 p.m. Baltas lost to Canyon Springs’ Candynce Boney last weekend in a Sunrise Region final that lasted more than three hours.
If she wins on Friday, Long would face either McQueen’s Elisabeth Buck or Sunset Region champion Jackie Tang of Bishop Gorman in Saturday’s semifinals. Boney, who placed third at state last year, is considered the top player in the tournament and wouldn’t face Long until Saturday’s championship match, which starts at 1 p.m.
Regardless of who she plays, Long said she must focus on her game.
“Since they practice year-round, obviously they are more consistent than we are up here,” Long said of the Las Vegas players. “They hit the ball a little harder, but it’s important to get my game ready. I have been working this week on improving my backhand and trying to lighten up on some shots, hitting it softer instead of hitting it hard all the time.”
Roberts, who lost in the quarterfinals last year to Canyon Springs’ Stan Breland, also is the Northern Region champion. A junior, Roberts plays Sunset Region runner-up Jimmy Lovett of The Meadows in the quarterfinals on Friday at 3 p.m.
A win over Lovett could mean a possible rematch against Breland, a member of Andre Agassi’s tennis academy who finished third last year at state. Breland, the Sunrise Region champion, plays Galena’s Chris Schwartz in the quarterfinals and is favored to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round that starts at 9 a.m.
Roberts, a competitive Far West freestyle skier in the winter, wonders sometimes what it’d be like to play tennis year-round like the Las Vegas opponents he’ll face this weekend.
“If I were to play him again, I remember how he plays, but all the guys from down there are really tough,” Roberts said. “Sometimes I think about how good I would be if I played year-round like they do. But I think cross training with skiing and tennis helps me out a lot.”