Thompson Valley’s Becca Wiersema returns the ball in a doubles match against Berthoud at BHS on Thursday. (Nathan Wright/Loveland Reporter-Herald)
Gravity prevents tennis balls from flying the impossible, unknown distance.
Gravity in terms of presence and importance also keeps a tennis program from being overlooked.
That’s the tone circling the Thompson Valley girls’ program these days, with the Eagles having had two consecutive years of sending multiple lines to the Class 4A state tournament. The 2022 season was a pivotal moment for coach Jay Klagge, who has helmed the school’s boys’ and girls’ tennis show at various stages since 2001, when 10 out of 11 players went to the state.
The Eagles’ resume looks pretty impressive and they have full expectation to build on the progress even with three key seniors graduating and a few players leaving to help launch the new program at Resurrection Christian.
“In 2012 we finished fourth, a team with this core of players like Andrea Brush, Emily Erickson, Hannah Gregory – it set a standard for Thompson Valley,” Klagge said. “We were able to put up good numbers on the boys’ and girls’ sides and they did a good job over the summer working together. We have an interest in tennis, in building, and we are able to maintain a certain level of competitiveness in tennis year after year.
“Growing up in Minnesota, it’s not difficult for me to go out on the court when it’s 40 degrees. We have a culture of playing in (winter), our racquets don’t get quiet and I think that helps us.”
Senior Allie Mertens, who reached the quarterfinals at #3 in singles last year, takes over the #1 spot for TVHS this time. Miranda Spooner played in doubles No. 3 last year and also reached the quarterfinals and she is in singles No. 2; Jayna Erickson also has swings up her quiver and she will be playing #3 singles.
An interesting story to watch is unfolding in doubles No 1, with senior Jacie Krieger returning after a long absence and a brave attempt to come onto the pitch after notable injury woes. She is due for another hip surgery in the off-season, but for now she will be working with classmate Becca Wiersema – Klagge likes the make-up of this team, with Krieger possessing a strong swing and Wiersma being notorious for her rush and ability to cover ground.
Seniors Camy Wiersema and Brenna Rutherford play in doubles No. 2, sophomores Kam Otteson and Sarah Takken in doubles No. 3, and senior Mary Liakas and junior Emma Smack round out the lineup, who are already 2-0 after that doubles win stands week against Eaton and Mountain View.
“We’re starting to take a look at the lines; We have a couple of tennis junkies in our sophomores who play 3 doubles,” added Klagge. “We’re going to have some pretty good depth and hopefully make the adjustments we need going forward. The lead is always small when you get to the end and into the regionals – a set goes one way or the other and little things make a difference late on.”
Berthoud High School
head coach: Hanna Grow-Morales (Fourth Season)
Graduated last year: 17. in 3A condition
Returning State Qualifiers: Lyndsey Pancost (Sr.)
Other players to watch: Nicolette Marty (Sr), Megan Malherbe (Jr), Kendra Maitland (Sr), Danae Alverson (Sr)
Coach’s Outlook: “Our girls have been training on and off the court since early February, putting in the reps and making the most of our days in the gym. We have a lot of returning seniors and juniors this year which is great, most of whom are all playing different lines. We want and hope that our players from last year will challenge themselves. We had a couple of close games at the Regionals last year that didn’t go to our liking, so I know we have a handful of players looking to fight for the state this year. I am very proud of all their hard work and dedication to our team and the sport. Every year I am thankful to be surrounded by ladies who want to learn and have fun, they are a lot of fun to coach.”
Mountain View High School
head coach: Joshua Marty (fifth season)
Graduated last year: 5-6 record
Returning State Qualifiers: none
Players to watch: Rebecca Napolitano (Mrs.), Elizabeth Martin (Sr.), Evie Burch (Sr.), Saura Dorcey (Sr.), Maya Vasquez (Sr.)
Coach’s Outlook: “We have a good group of girls this year, including five seniors who have been playing varsity tennis for three years and are looking forward to the season. Rebecca Napolitano will take the 1-singles position as a freshman and senior Elizabeth Martin, our 1-singles last year will be at 2-singles. I expect both of them to be successful in their respective positions. Senior Joy Mellott, our 3rd singles position last year, suffered a cruciate ligament tear and will not be able to play this season. She has bravely taken a leadership role in helping other players rise to the high school tennis level. The combined chemistry and talent of the team makes me very optimistic for a historic season.”
resurrection of Christ
head coach: Jane Burke (First Season)
Players to watch: Mycah Biscelgia (Sun.)
Coach’s Outlook: “This is our inaugural season here at RCS. We look forward to the season! Our first tournament in Eaglecrest ended with a 2nd place among the “big” schools. Mycah Biscelgia and Lysette Baatz and Jordan Taylor (No. 3 in doubles) won their brackets, Isabella Prohs (No. 2 in singles) made it to the final with a strong performance. I’m looking forward to what’s to come!”
Loveland High School
head coach: Heidi Abrahamson (Ninth Season)
Returning State Qualifiers: Scarlett Jeffries (Sr.)
Other players to watch: Libby Blanks (Jr.). No. 1 singles; Sydney Knapp (Jr.) No. 3 singles; Haley Vair (Sr.) and Junior Alyssa Hughes (Jr.) No. 1 in doubles.
Coach’s Outlook: “Last year the team qualified as 4A – this year the Loveland tennis team was upgraded to 5A. The regular season is very similar to last year, with mostly 5A schools on the schedule. While the move from 4A to 5A will offer a new, higher level regional tournament experience and challenge the Loveland girls tennis team, the focus is the same – to have fun, work hard and put our girls in the best possible position to compete Regionals. Intelligent, aggressive play with the memory of a goldfish and a next shot mentality, who knows, we might surprise a few teams. It’s that time of year for March Madness and Cinderella stories, after all!”