STHS girls ready to make some ‘racket’ | TahoeDailyTribune.com

STHS girls ready to make some ‘racket’

By Steve Yingling

Tribune sports editor

Armed with one of the state’s top singles players and several strong doubles teams, the South Tahoe High girls’ tennis squad should string together plenty of victories in 2006.

Masha Long, a Northern Nevada regional finalist last year, returns for a senior season that has the potential to become the Vikings’ most successful to date. Long only lost three matches last year in the North, and they were all to Galena’s Laura Burgarello, who graduated with two state titles. Long and Jimmy Roberts of the boys’ team were the first Vikings since 1996 to qualify for the state tournament.

“Masha is the strongest player in the league. She’s hitting the ball better than she ever has, and I expect her to have an outstanding season,” said STHS’s fourth-year girls’ coach Pat Fagen.

The play of the remaining singles players, however, could go a long way toward determining how far the Vikings go this season. Juniors Kaci Cole, Jade Copple and Alicia Mason and sophomore Jenny Wiseman are battling for the second and third seeds.

“I know Masha is going to get us three points every match; the success of our team is going to be determined by some other singles players stepping up and winning some matches for us.”

Doubles depth will also be another strength for the Vikings. Senior Jenny Schmedes and junior Chela Wahl form the team’s top doubles duo. They have advanced to the regional quarterfinals the past two years.

Junior Cierra Rawlings and sophomore Kenzie Usher also saw extensive time on the court together last year.

“When they both are on they give Jenny and Chela a run for their money,” Fagen said.

Most teams drop off with their second or third doubles teams, but the Vikings are solid there as well. Lauren Sannazzaro, a senior, missed most of last season with pulled calf muscle, but is healthy and will be paired with sophomore Savannah Cherry. Additional doubles depth will be provided by Simone Sannazzaro and Hannah Kropf.

For the past two years, only Galena has outclassed the Vikings. The Grizzlies have ousted the Vikings from the postseason in each of the past two seasons, winning last year’s regional semifinal 15-3. South Tahoe, however, has narrowed the gap on Reno and seems poised to pass the Huskies in the Sierra Division this season. Players’ devotion to working out twice a day has elevated the Vikings another notch as they try to win the Sierra Division and advance to the state tournament.

“The girls are working hard and they realize they are right on the threshold of being the top team in the league,” Fagen said. “I’ve been looking forward to this season for the past five years. It’s gonna be a fun season.”

As in past seasons, the Vikings will start off by playing the league’s top two teams – Galena and Reno. South Tahoe will host Galena today and Reno on Thursday. The latter match could go a long way toward determining South Tahoe’s season.

“If we beat Reno, we’ll win our half and we won’t have to play Galena again until the finals of the zone tournament,” Fagen said.

Both zone finalists advance to the state tournament.

STHS girls’ tennis breakout

Coach: Pat Fagen, fourth year (11th overall), assisted by Justin Clark (third year).

Last year: 9-3, runner-up in Sierra Division, regional semifinalist

Key losses: Doubles player Katie Killebrew, McKensie Pimley.

Key retuners: senior singles player Masha Long, 2005 Northern Nevada 4A runner-up and state qualifier; and doubles team Jenny Schmedes, senior; and Chela Wahl, 2006 regional quarterfinalists.

Opener: Today at Galena.

STHS girls’ schedule

Date Opponent

Today GALENA

Aug. 31 RENO

Sept. 5 At Douglas

Sept. 7 At Hug

Sept. 12 CARSON

Sept. 14 WOOSTER

Sept. 19 At North Tahoe

Sept. 21 Damonte Ranch

Sept. 26 At North Valleys

Sept. 28 At Truckee

Note: Home matches are in ALL CAPS and all matches begin at 3 p.m.

Roberts leads young STHS boys’ team

With freshmen accounting for nearly half of the South Tahoe High boys’ tennis roster, the natural prediction would be that the Vikings are in for a long season.

On the contrary, fourth-year coach Kyle Horvath has a talented core of junior players to help bring along the newcomers. Leading the way will be 2005 Northern 4A regional singles runner-up Jimmy Roberts. Roberts, a junior, became the first STHS player in a decade to participate in the state tournament last year.

Zach Kropf the No. 2 singles player and Sean Brower currently is the No. 3 singles player. Nathan Garofalos was scheduled to be the No. 3 singles player but is off the team for now because of an illness. He could return within two months. His absence forces Brower to play singles instead of doubles, which would’ve strengthened the team overall.

“You want to stay optimistic, but the fact of the matter is we’re a really young team. We have quite a few players who are still looking to play their first matches ever,” Horvath said. “But the good news is they have all been working hard and took some tennis classes over the summer.”

The No. 1 doubles team is Tyler Venema and Nick Smith and the No. 2 duo is Nik Noomen and freshman Cameron Chase. There is a group of four freshmen vying to make up the No. 3 doubles team, although Horvath said he will likely use several combinations the first two weeks of the season.

After defeating McQueen in a home playoff match, STHS nearly upset Galena in the regional semifinals, losing 11-7. Despite, his team’s youth, Horvath believes the Vikings can aim for the playoffs again.

“I still expect the team to go to regionals and to send two singles and two doubles teams to the individual tournament,” Horvath said. “All these changes in the lineup just mean everybody is going to have to work harder to fill the shoes that were left behind.”

– Tribune staff writer Jeremy Evans contributed to this story.

STHS boys’ tennis breakout

Coach: Kyle Horvath, fourth season

Last year: 9-3, advanced to the regional semifinals before losing to Galena 11-7.

Key returners: Junior singles players Jimmy Roberts (regional runner-up, state qualifier), Zach Kropf and Sean Brower; doubles players Nick Noomen, senior, and juniors Tyler Venema and Nick Smith.

Key losses: Nathan Garofalos (illness), Hans Mayer, Jamie Moore, Greg Gaskin and Clayton Cole.

Opener: Today at Galena, 3 p.m.

STHS boys’ schedule

Date Opponent

Today At Galena

Aug. 31 At Reno

Sept. 5 DOUGLAS

Sept. 7 HUG

Sept. 12 At Carson

Sept. 14 At Wooster

Sept. 19 NORTH TAHOE

Sept. 21 At Damonte Ranch

Sept. 26 N. VALLEYS

Sept. 28 TRUCKEE

Note: Home matches are in ALL CAPS and all matches begin at 3 p.m.


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