Lakers playing to win |

Lakers playing to win

Alex Close/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe High senior Lauren Robinson volleys during practice at Granlibakken Resort this week. Robinson is currently the No. 2 singles player for the Lakers.

Despite participating in postseason play the past two years, North Tahoe’s tennis team is stepping it up another level this season.

“We’ve become highly competitive,” head coach Michele Wittels said during a preseason practice at Granlibakken Resort this week.

While the Lakers team has previously operated under an “everyone plays policy,” this year’s squad voted to be a “play to win” team.

The major difference will be the use of a ladder system to rank the team.

Laker players faced each other in practice to determine rankings, and lower players can challenge those above them for a better position.

The top nine players will see competitive match play and others will be filled in when the opportunity arises.

With a huge corps of girls returning to the team and motivated to win, sheer numbers also contribute to the Lakers’ potential for success this season.

Fifteen girls make up what Wittels calls the largest North Tahoe girls tennis team ever.

So far, the preseason has also given the Lakers a jump.

Wittels enlisted the help of Scott Murphy, director of the Nike Tennis Camp held at Granlibakken Resort every summer, to help train the team for two weeks of preseason.

Murphy works with them on technique, mechanics and also maintains an enthusiastic and positive approach to the girls.

According to Wittels, North Tahoe’s veteran seniors and juniors will lead the team this season.

Lauren Robinson, a senior who, along with Justine Multon, has been with the program all four years, has been playing very tough through the preseason to hold the No. 2 spot on the team.

“Lauren has worked hard all summer,” coach Whittels said.

Junior Anja Wittels has the No. 1 Laker seed, and currently is ranked 91st among all Northern California players after a summer of competitive tournament play.

Multon and senior Ali Bravo are currently vying for the third-place rank.

While it is often overlooked that the North Tahoe tennis programs compete at the 4A level ” despite its consistent success ” the Laker Athletic Department’s drop to 2A will not effect the tennis program.

In reality, there is only one division for tennis, which North Tahoe plays in. But with most bigger schools having programs and few smaller ones competing, the Laker tennis teams often face programs from much larger schools.

Last season, Wittels, Multon and Robinson all competed in the Northern Nevada Championship in Reno ” Multon and Robinson as a doubles team and Wittels as a single.

“To send girls to regionals is an amazing accomplishment,” coach Wittels said.

With such a strong returning group ” there are only two new girls on this year’s roster ” it’s an accomplishment the Lakers expect to improve on this season.

“I think we’ll do even better this year,” Wittels said.

Aug. 28 at Reno

Aug. 30 at South Tahoe

Sept. 4 vs. Wooster

Sept. 6 vs. McQueen

Sept. 11 at Carson

Sept. 13 vs. Damonte

Sept. 18 vs. Douglas

Sept. 20 at Hug

Sept. 25 Bye

Sept. 26 at Truckee

Sept. 27 vs. North Valleys

Oct. 2-13 Regionals

Oct. 18-20 State Championship (South)

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