Truckee-Tahoe players dominate regional tennis tournament
The top tennis players out of the Class 3A Northern Region hit the courts at the Tahoe Donner Tennis Center last weekend for the individual Northern Region Tennis Championships.
Play began on Friday, Oct. 13, with 16-player fields for boys and girls’ singles and doubles, and once the tournament had concluded, 10 Truckee-Tahoe area players stamped their tickets as one of 12 members to represent the Northern Region at the state tournament.
Truckee junior Zach Haas made it three consecutive regional titles with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Incline senior Lucas Tong in the finals. Haas, who is the defending state champion in singles, breezed through the tournament, winning seven consecutive sets without dropping a game until the final set against Tong.
Tong has been the only player during the season that has been able to take games from the undefeated Haas, and found his most success of the season against the Truckee junior during the regional finals.
“I was looking forward to it because it’s always fun to play someone better than you, and you can play up to them” Tong said. “I just slowed down and waited more when I hit the ball.”
After Haas won the final set, but struggled with his shot, the school’s only individual tennis champion celebrated his regional title by heading to a nearby court for nearly an hour of hitting balls.
South Tahoe senior Mickey Sullivan also qualified for the state tournament after topping Incline junior Dalton Fry, 6-4, 7-5, in the third-place match.
In doubles play, Truckee juniors Noah Warren and Zach Larson captured their first regional championship with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Churchill County’s Myles Getto and Blake Malkovich in the finals.
“Ever since freshman year, it’s been a goal of mine to be here,” Larson said. “We got so close last year, and it’s surreal to be at this point.”
The two finished in third place at last year’s regional tournament, but have been unbeaten during their 2017 campaign.
“It’s great. It’s definitely nice to say we’re undefeated throughout the whole entire season, and then just get this first-place medal,” Warren said. “We’re going to take it to the people down in Vegas.”
Warren and Larson took on teammates in junior Turner Drummond and sophomore Patrick Hogan during a three-set battle in the semifinals in what became their toughest test of the tournament.
“That was definitely our hardest match,” Larson said. “It was great playing them because it was so close.”
Hogan and Drummond qualified for the state tournament after rallying back from a tough first set to defeat South Tahoe’s Quinn Proctor and Pete Sullivan, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.
On the girls’ side, Incline senior Viki Valente continued to show she’s the top player in the Northern Region, dispatching of her three opponents to claim the regional championship and remain unbeaten on the year (Valente had a bye in the first round).
Valente, a foreign exchange student from Lyon, France, competed in the finals against Incline sophomore Kate Tong, who is also part of Valente’s host family while in Incline.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Valente said. “I worked hard before coming here from France. I’m proud of what I’ve done. This was kind of hard because (Tong) is also my house sister.”
The two battled it out over two sets with Valente winning 6-2, 6-3. Tong’s second place also qualifies her for the state tournament, giving the Tong household three players in the state tournament.
“It was really fun,” said Kate Tong on playing Valente in the finals. “I enjoyed it.”
Truckee senior Rebecca Ziegler was the final state qualifier. Ziegler rebounded from a loss to Valente in the semifinals to beat South Tahoe’s Kayla Mason, 6-3, 6-3, for third place.
South Tahoe seniors Abby Burns and Gabbi Fisher won the girls’ doubles championship with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Churchill County’s Brynlee Shults and Brooklynn Whitaker.
A pair of Truckee teams reached the third-place match, with sophomores Courtney Engberg and Rachel Heath taking a 7-5, 6-2 win over senior Sarah Jane Shaffer and freshman Lilah Abarno to earn a trip to the state tournament in Las Vegas.
The 2017 Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A Nevada State High School Tennis Championships begins on Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas. The team tournament begins on Thursday with the singles and doubles tournaments starting the following day.