STHS girls’ tennis team enjoys a huge turnout of youngsters
Interest in the South Tahoe girls’ tennis team is growing at a pace that even the coach finds incredible.
First-year head coach Pat Fagen said 23 girls came out to play this year, the most he has ever seen. Fagen was co-coach of the team last season and spent seven years coaching the boys before that.
“All of them have been practicing in the tennis academy program all summer and that is the first time we have had full participation from everybody,” said Fagen, explaining that the academy is a developmental program he started five years ago to serve as a “feeder system” for the high school team. “This season’s team is the deepest and most talented we have had for the girls since I’ve been involved with the high school. It is a young team and what they have in talent they are kind of lacking in experience as far as high school competition.”
Fagen noted that six of the top nine girls are either freshmen or sophomores.
“Our junior varsity team this year would have been a starting team for us in years past,” he said.
Last season, the girls’ team tied for second in Northern Nevada 4A but lost the tiebreaker which would have sent the whole team to the zone tourney.
So far this season, the doubles teams seem to be falling into place, with freshman Masha Long teaming up with sophomore Katie Killebrew in the No. 1 spot. The No. 2 doubles team appears to be freshmen Jenny Schmedes and Lauren Sannazzaro, and No. 3 doubles will probably be freshman Andrea Killebrew and senior Sarah Segal.
The singles positions are still up in the air, Fagen said.
“We have a team ladder and people are always challenging and there are six or seven girls fighting for those top three spots,” he said.
So far, it looks like junior Elyse Jones will fill the No. 1 singles position to start the season, while Sara Schwartz, Sydney Dusty and Lacey Leonard are competing for the other two spots.
Practices begin at 7 a.m., so obviously a high level of dedication is required to make the team.
“The girls have been working hard all summer and I’m very proud of their effort,” Fagen said. “This is probably the most fun team I’ve coached with the most potential. They realize that Reno and Galena are the teams to beat in our league and we are probably right now one of the top teams of the rest, so they are setting their goals to be one of the top three teams in the league.”
Returning starter Katie Killebrew has noticed a definite change in the team’s chemistry this season, which should work to the team’s advantage.
“At practice everybody is working really hard and we have improved a lot over the past couple of weeks,” Killebrew said. “Everybody is working together as a team. Last year, we had quite a few cliques and this year we are meshing really well. Some of the strategies we’ve been working on (should help) because Reno can play tennis year-round. We are doing the basics like making sure we’re getting the balls over the net and our serves in and not making as many mistakes because the team that makes less mistakes usually wins.”
“With a lot of freshmen and sophomores and only one senior this year, it means everybody is going to be on the team for the next couple of years so we’re only going to keep getting better.”
Fagen said he’s hopeful the team can advance to state this year.
“Our goal is not just to win zone but to make the state playoffs,” he said. “We have to beat both Reno and Galena at some time. I’m excited about the future of this team in the coming years because we are a very young team with a good attitude and all the girls are really pulling together.”
South Tahoe opens its season Tuesday in Reno against Spanish Springs. The first home match is against Reno on Thursday. Both matches begin at 3:30 p.m.
“(The Reno match) is really going to be an indicator of where we stand right now,” Fagen added.
9/2 at Spanish Springs 3:30 p.m.
9/4 Reno High School 3:30 p.m.
9/8 at Wooster 3:30 p.m.
9/9 at North Valleys 3:30 p.m.
9/16 Hug 3:30 p.m.
9/18 Manogue 3:30 p.m.
9/23 at North Tahoe 3:30 p.m.
9/30 Carson 3:30 p.m.
10/2 at Douglas 3:30 p.m.