Viking girls poised for growth |

Viking girls poised for growth

Darin Olde, Tribune staff writer

After missing zone by a slim few points in 2001, South Tahoe High’s girls tennis team hopes to reach a little higher in Northern Nevada’s 4A Sierra League in 2002.

And having more hands this year, with enough to split the program into a varsity and junior varsity, the Vikings may have the depth and the key returners to do it.

In 2001, the girls team finished in a three-way tie for third in the Sierra League at 5-3 with Bishop Manogue and Carson.

The Vikings were seeded fifth and missed the top four playoff slots, having lost to Carson (5-3, 16 points) despite having more points. Manogue (5-3), who led with 28.5 points, earned the third seed.

“Our team is just as strong as it was last year,” said Sarah Segal, 16, a junior. “This year, we’re in the middle of getting better. The varsity is the same; the other team is growing.”

With the Tahoe Tennis Academy feeding the high school program, which is a collection of 20, second-year girls coaches Sabrina Zalles and Pat Fagen see good things in the future. So do the upperclassmen, who say a strong core of young players look to keep them on their toes.

There also is the memory of last year, which juniors and seniors recall as the one that got away.

“I think (missing zone) taught us that every game counts, every point,” Segal said. “It was a bit of a bummer, but then you realize how much more it makes you want to push yourself.”

Pushing at the front of the line will be seniors Larissa LaRue and Kelly Haslam, who finished their 2001 doubles season in the first round of zone.

Fagen said LaRue, who is a likely the No. 1 starter in singles, is among the top echelon of zone players, and that she’s been hitting the courts hard all summer.

LaRue tied with sophomore Elyse Jones in the team’s opening round-robin tournament. The tournament sets the “ladder,” or pecking order, to give players tentative team standings.

“I think Larissa and I have a chance of winning zone,” said Haslam, who started playing with LaRue about halfway through the 2001 season.

Haslam said she and LaRue often relied on hitting the ball hard, but often at the cost of inaccuracy.

“I don’t think we really had a strategy, we just kind of started playing, and whatever worked, worked … whatever we could win with is what we did, anything that would go in the court,” she said.

“We’ve been playing together a little bit this summer, and having played a little bit last year, we’re better together.”

Senior Samantha Crosson, who won the most matches on the team in 2001 before concluding her season in the first round of zone against McQueen, will likely return as a dominant player.

Crystal Gibbons, Jett-Pierce and Sara Schwartz, who all received varsity playing time last year, are expected to see significant court time this year.

Jett-Pierce, who played doubles in 2001 with Segal, finished the round-robin seeded fourth, ahead of Lacey Leonard, Katie Killebrew and Haslam, at seventh.

At No. 8 was Ashley Bratton, followed by Robin Jepson, Michelle Stamme, who tied for 10th with Miranda Lightholder.

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