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Vikings earn rematch with Galena

Steve Yingling

Before the McQueen High tennis team’s cozy touring bus arrived in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, the Lancers knew they were in an 0-3 hole.

With the undefeated defending regional boys’ singles champion on its side, South Tahoe had a decided edge in its quarterfinal playoff match with McQueen. Led by Roberts’ three one-sided victories, the Vikings advanced to the Northern 4A regional semifinals with a 12-6 triumph over the Lancers.

Roberts, a senior, only dropped one game out of the 19 he played as the Vikings advanced to the regional semifinals for the third straight year.

He hit too hard and placed his shots too well for the Lancers to remain on the court with him for very long.

McQueen tried to throw the Vikings off their game by mixing up their seeds in the first round. It initially worked as the Lancers split the six matches in the first round, but the Vikings controlled the rest of the match.

“I’m real proud of our team doing well this year after getting a new coach,” Roberts said. “Our team never stopped working hard, and it’s paid off.”

In high school tennis, one player can only count for three points, so Roberts needed plenty of help to move on in the playoffs. His teammates responded as junior singles players Johno Seifkert and David Grand combined to win five matches. Like Roberts, Seifkert only lost one game, while Grand recovered from a 6-1 first-round defeat to Joey Saarem to win his next two matches, 6-0 and 6-2.

The Lancers were able to split the eight doubles matches but couldn’t figure out STHS seniors Nick Smith and Tyler Venema. Smith and Venema won 6-4, 6-3 and 6-3.

In the final round, Smith and Venema rebounded from a 3-2 deficit to win the next four games. With the scored tied at 3, Venema won his serve at love, then delivered a game-clinching smash after his deep return to make it 5-3. By then, their McQueen foes were rattled.

“We shouldn’t have let them have three games,” Smith said. “We were letting them play their game when we should been playing ours.”

South Tahoe’s other doubles point was provided by Jordan Zager and Darius Guerrero, who won 6-4 in a second round that concluded with the Vikings in front 8-4.

“I’m happy for the team to win a match they are supposed to win and do what they are supposed to out on the court,” said Vikings’ coach Justin Clark. “I hope they aren’t satisfied with this win.”

The next obstacle will present a more serious challenge. On Thursday, the Vikings must travel to High Desert League champion Galena, which pounded Douglas 15-3 in its quarterfinal. The Grizzlies destroyed STHS 14-4 earlier in the season, but the Vikings have won seven matches in succession since then.

“If everyone wants it, we can do it,” Roberts said. “It’s up to our team.”

Venema agreed:

“Everyone needs to come out in warmups and be fired up and ready to win,” he said.

With a spot in the finals on the line and a chance to pay back Galena, Clark shouldn’t need a prematch speech to fire up his Vikings.


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