South Tahoe hopes to raise a racket
All the racket coming from South Tahoe High’s tennis courts may represent a promising new chapter for the school’s tennis squads.
The Vikings aren’t entering the season, which begins today, quietly. Rather, the team’s depth means constant challenges with different players at the top. A day before the first tournament, South Tahoe’s boys team rearranged themselves, with senior Colin Moulton emerging as number one, ahead of second-seeded junior Graham St. Michel, while a freshman, Parker Alexander, will play third seed as a result of Monday’s intrateam matches.
“This is the best team I’ve had since I’ve been coach by far,” said Pat Fagen, who coaches the South Tahoe boys along with assistant Kirby Moulton.
“In the past, we started to put together three competitive doubles teams and this year we have four strong doubles teams as well as three strong singles players,” Fagen said.
This season, Joedy Michael and Andy Mora, two juniors, will join forces as the top doubles squad. Junior Chris Stamey and freshman Keenyn Wallace will play number two, ahead of the third team, freshman Jason Van Sooy and junior Jason Scott.
The optimism extends to the other side of the court, to the South Tahoe girls, who finished 9-4 overall and made a trip to the zone championships last season. Reno bounced the girls from zone, but Tahoe returns for another season with new talent.
“I’d say that we probably have kind of about the same chance to go to zone, but I don’t know how that will play out because they divided up the zone this year,” said Tom Barnes, who coaches South Tahoe’s girls, along with assistants Dave Alexander, Kathy Wharton and Andi Davis.
The zone’s new alignment means South Tahoe draws matches not only with traditional powers like Reno and Galena, but also teams the Vikings know little about, like Truckee. Barnes stresses he has a lot of young players, and he still is looking at the team as a building stage.
Senior Jenny Olsen claimed the top seed for the opener at Truckee, ahead of classmate Nicole Reener. Sophomore Kristen Kirkland will be the third singles seed. In doubles, Nikki Moore teams with Lisa Borges for the top seed, while Shawna Hixenbaugh teams with Jenna Willford. Lauren Stevens and Larissa LaRue make up the third-seeded doubles team.
South Tahoe is young, but Barnes seemed excited to build the program, with 22 athletes out this season.
“I look at the program in terms of what the kids put out and what they get,” Barnes said. “We have a much stronger start from a conditioning angle, and (in) some mechanics.”
The Viking boys have started to reverse their fortunes from two years ago, when the team was 1-13. Last year, they took the first step, finishing 6-8. They can keep the trend going this season.
“I won’t make any predictions, but we’ll definitely be over .500,” Fagen said.
In order to stay competitive in their new league, the Viking boys will have to come up big in the realigned division. South Tahoe’s new league includes the top two teams from a year ago, Carson, and traditional powerhouse Reno. Reno brings a near-perfect record into the division, with just one loss in the past 30 years – to South Tahoe five seasons ago. But the Vikings should be able to compete, even with the Huskies.
“I feel we’ll be competitive with everybody,” Fagen said.
The Sept. 14 meet with Reno looms large on the calendar, and Fagen plans on using it as a barometer so his players can gauge the rest of the year. But South Tahoe’s first test comes today when the Viking boys stay home to meet Truckee at 3:30 p.m., while the Viking girls travel to the North Shore to face Truckee’s girls for a 3:30 p.m. match.
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