North Tahoe girls tennis team optimistic |

North Tahoe girls tennis team optimistic

Alex Close/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe High School tennis player Anja Wittels returns a ball during practice last week.

After its first ever invitation to the Nevada State Championships in 2005, North Tahoe’s girls tennis team is looking strong again this year.

In a school where most sports suffer from declining enrollment, second-year head coach Michelle Wittels said that her numbers are up with 12 players.

With only four returning players, girls tennis must be appealing as it attracted eight new girls.

One might think that so many beginners would be a major hurdle for the team, but Wittels said the new players are progressing quickly.

It’s not all rebuilding, however, as Wittels said the team is anchored by four very strong players: Sophomore Anja Wittels ” who was elected team captain ” junior Lauren Robinson, junior Justine Multon and junior Ali Bravo, who will all be playing singles this season.

“Our singles players are really strong this year,” Wittels said.

According to Wittels, improvement from new players will be key this season, but the optimistic head coach also said that with so many new players, enthusiasm and willingness to learn is something that runs strong on her team.

Wittels said the team has been focusing on “learning the game and doubles strategy.”

Wittels said she was not quite sure why so many girls joined the team this year, but she thought that last year’s success had a lot to do with it.

She also pointed to the resurfacing of North Tahoe’s on-site tennis courts, which allows the team to practice right on campus and gain more exposure, as a key to the rise in roster numbers.

The new faces are not just freshman, as quite a few older girls have joined the tennis team this year.

Sophomore Devon Vandewiele and junior Anna Sitkoff are both rookies on this year’s team.

Sitkoff said that tennis “looked like fun.”

Vandewiele said she didn’t really want to run cross country and tennis is fun.

“It’s a chill sport,” Vandewiele said.

When asked about her team’s goals, Wittels said that last year’s postseason performance is a good thing to try and repeat.

“That was huge for North Tahoe tennis,” Wittels said. “That’s my goal again.”

In order to qualify as a team for regionals, North Tahoe must qualify two singles players and two doubles teams, a goal Wittels thinks the Lakers can achieve.

Another addition to this year’s squad is coaching help from IVGID tennis coach Nick Saadi, who Wittels said has been working the girls hard.

Saadi’s drills were shown at an earlier season practice, where the new assistant coach put players through return drills. As they moved towards the net returning balls, Saadi critiqued each shot or praised it, depending on form.

With four strong returners, eager, motivated youth and an experienced coaching staff, North Tahoe’s postseason goals may very well be within reach.

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