Lady Wolverines repeat as Northern League tennis champions
After graduating six players off last year’s Northern League championship squad, the Truckee girls’ tennis team came into the season expecting the 2018 campaign to be a rebuilding year.
Instead, a team led by one senior, a handful of talented juniors, and an ever-improving group of underclassmen proved doubters wrong, upsetting South Tahoe in the semifinals of this year’s regional tournament, before repeating as league champions on Tuesday, Oct. 9, behind a dominant performance against North Valleys.
“I’m proud of the team,” said junior Rachel Heath. “This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. We lost a lot of people last year, but here we are, going to state again.”
Truckee swept the first round of matches at Tahoe Donner Tennis Center, and by the time the second round had concluded, the Wolverines had secured a fourth Northern League title in five years, having built an insurmountable 11-1 lead over North Valleys.
From there, Head Coach Henry Ryerson mixed in the Wolverines’ bench, allowing for some of the team’s less experienced players to get court time during a championship match.
“The girls are great, they work hard, and they have, most importantly, great etiquette,” said Ryerson on winning another title. “They are champions of sportsmanship also. I’m just really pleased with the team, the effort, and the whole tennis community here in Truckee. Seems like it’s growing every year, and I couldn’t be more happy about it.”
From doubles partners to Truckee’s top singles players
Juniors Courtney Engberg and Heath used to play together as doubles partners, but have now have developed into the team’s two best singles players.
Heath has become Truckee’s No. 2 singles player this year, and finished the regular season with a record of 13-9. Against North Valleys, she picked up a pair of wins, before being subbed out in the final round.
“It was definitely hard, because you are not used to moving so much,” she said on the move to singles. “And it’s hard to stay positive.”
After helping the team to the regional title on Tuesday, Heath will now prepare to play in the Northern League singles tournament this weekend as the No. 7 seed.
Engberg has emerged as the team’s top singles player, and will enter the individual tournament as the No. 11 seed due to a lack of matches played this year. She will line up against Incline’s Taylor Redfern.
“I started this season as a doubles player, and then I sat out part of the season because I got hurt,” said Engberg. “I had to work my way back up to where I was before.”
Truckee will also have junior Jasmine Posada playing in the singles tournament as the No. 8 seed.
North Tahoe’s tennis program will have freshman Marina Hendricks playing in the tournament as the No. 13 seed.
Undefeated doubles team
Truckee’s lone senior, Kira Collins, and sophomore Lilah Abarno have been unbeatable on the court together during the regular season, and in the semifinal round, combined to sweep their matches against South Tahoe, before winning a pair of matches in the finals against North Valleys.
“It’s only our second year on the team,” said Abarno on the duo’s undefeated season. “We keep it light, and we don’t get in our heads or anything,”
Collins came to the team after playing five years of volleyball, and this is her first year playing doubles with Abarno.
“It’s been really amazing. We’ve had a really good season,” she said.
“Our coach has been really amazing this season. That’s really helped our whole team. He gets serious when he needs to be and he can lighten it up when it needs to be lightened … he’s been a big factor in us being able to win two years in a row.”
North Valleys tested the two players on Monday, moving their top two singles players over to doubles. Still, the Truckee tandem, remained perfect on the year, taking the win in a tight match over Panthers.
The two players will now compete for a regional doubles championship this weekend, and will enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Collins. “There will be a lot of good matches.”
Junior Carly Bertken and sophomore Jade Bullock will be the No. 11 seed, and Junior Ani Walterscheid and freshman Jaci Bates qualified as the No. 12 seed.
The two-day Class 3A Northern League singles and doubles tournament is scheduled to begin on Friday, Oct. 12, at the Tahoe Donner Tennis Center.
Truckee will have the benefit of remaining at home throughout the postseason. This year’s team and individual state tournaments will be held the following week at the Tahoe Donner Tennis Center.
“We’re lucky for it. We don’t have to drive south this year, and they are going to have to come up here and play in the cold weather. It’s our turn to stay at home, and it’s good for the fanbase and that growing community we have with tennis here … we’ve still got to take care of business,” said Ryerson.
“Huge thanks to all of the parents who are supportive, and to the hard working team, and the tennis facility here at Tahoe Donner, which gives us all of these awesome courts to call our home courts.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.