STHS tennis sends three players to state
CARSON CITY – Another chapter in the Jimmy Roberts-Jeff Mullen tennis story developed on Saturday afternoon at Carson High. Roberts, though, would rather turn the page and start another one as the Sierra League’s No. 2 seed upset the top-seeded Roberts 6-4, 6-4 in the Northern 4A regional tournament championship match.
Mullen, a 6-foot-7 junior from Reno High, also beat Roberts to win the 2005 regional title, but the South Tahoe senior defeated him in the 2006 regional title match and posted a 6-2 victory over him in the regular season. But in this latest meeting, Mullen’s big serve and powerful forehand winners reached a level Roberts had never seen.
“I feel a little demoralized right now,” Roberts said. “I am not mad about how I played or anything. He just came out super strong and prepared. He was just playing unbelievable.”
Mullen will be the region’s No. 1 seed and Roberts the No. 2 seed at this week’s 4A state tournament in Las Vegas. Bishop Manogue’s Phillip Hinojosa secured the region’s No. 3 seed following his 6-2, 6-2 victory over Incline’s Wil Prim in the third-place match.
Roberts finished third at state last year and lost in the quarterfinals as a sophomore, being eliminated both times by Stan Breland of Canyon Springs. Although the state tournament brackets won’t be released until tonight, STHS coach Justin Clark is confident Roberts will turn the tables on Mullen should they meet again in Vegas.
“Jimmy hasn’t seen this kind of competition for a while,” Clark said. “The guy just played lights out, especially on his service game. But Jimmy will beat him next time … I know he will beat him if he sees him again.”
Despite the disappointment from the Roberts supporters, two other South Tahoe athletes celebrated something girls’ tennis coach Pat Fagen had never seen before.
Seniors Chela Wahl and Kenzie Usher rebounded from a semifinal loss earlier in the day to defeat Galena’s Emily McClintock and Leaan Roggensack 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 in the third-place match of the Northern 4A doubles tournament on Saturday at Carson High. They are the first STHS doubles players to qualify for state in coach Fagen’s seven years with the program.
“They showed a lot of courage to come back from that loss and win like they did,” Fagen said. “When they play up to their ability, they can just steamroll teams. They could win state if they put together three good matches like I know they can.”
Wahl and Usher lost to eventual regional champion Lindy Deller and Adie Potter of Galena 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals. But they bounced back from that loss to defeat another doubles team from Galena.
“It was at the back of our minds, for sure,” Usher said of the chances her and Wahl had at making state this year. “We’re so happy to be there, but hopefully we can win.”
“We have tried so hard to get here,” Wahl said. “Finally we pulled it off.”