Most of the momentum carried into last year’s state tournament will need to be recreated if the Lady Wave tennis team wants to return this year.
Fallon qualified as a team for the state tournament for the first time in nearly a decade but lost to the state champ in humbling fashion. The Lady Wave boasted the second-best doubles team in the state, as well, but they were upset in the first round of the state tournament.
“It’s been OK. It hasn’t been extremely hard,” Fallon coach Julie Moore said about the loss of five seniors. “It’s a tough transition in that aspect because I don’t have the numbers for a good combination for singles and doubles.”
This year looks to be starting from scratch, sort of, as Moore returns three seniors, two juniors and three sophomores. No freshmen are on the team. Two sophomores new to the team to give Moore 10 players, one over the minimum to field three singles and three doubles teams.
“This is just how it’s going to have to work,” she said. “The girls, who played singles in past, now play doubles just to have a stronger chance at having more wins. The girls we have are solid. We have two beginners, beginners in every sense of the word and just having to learn the game.”
Returners Kali Strong, Debra Beyer and Linsey Golding are playing their final season with the green and white, while Haley Lindsay and Jenna Spencer, also returning, are juniors. The sophomore class includes returners Melanie Nuckolls, Sarah Inglis and Kayla Bekiares, and beginners Lana Quint and Izzy Martinez.
“Our returning players are pretty solid,” Moore said. “We’re just keeping that momentum going and it’s going to be something we work on every day with continuous improvement and working on the game.”
With a less-experienced team, Moore changed her practice format and will be working more on drills instead of competition so the team can get the basics perfected.
“There are a lot more drills and a lot more working on the actual game,” she said. “Before, we just sent them out and they played matches. We’re doing a lot more. We’re incorporating more drills, forehands and backhands and working on the serves. We have a pretty young team.”
Moore said Lindsay, Inglis and Golding will play singles while Strong and Beyer, Bekiares and Spencer and Nuckolls and Martinez will play doubles. Martinez and Quint with rotate in doubles competition.
A wrinkle in the system could benefit this year’s young team as the Northern Division I-A teams will not compete against the Division I in the regular season, unless it’s scheduled as a nonconference match.
But even with the change and knowing how young Fallon is this year, Moore still preferred the old way because playing the bigger schools made her team better.
“The whole point is to improve,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with the teams we’re playing. They’re not above us or below us. You improve when you play bigger schools. There’s always room for improvement. When have opportunity to play schools who play tennis year round and have access to tennis pros that kids go these smaller schools don’t have the opportunity … you always want to play the best.
Moore said it could hurt not just her club, but the rest of the Northern DI-A when the state tournament arrives.
“It’s a missed opportunity,” Moore added. “It’s not just that the schools we’re playing aren’t the best. When you go down to Las Vegas, those schools are the best and we’re not prepared for that.”
But the objective for this season is plain and simple: just give it your all.
“I expect them to give their hardest, be fair and just work hard, and repeat and be competitive,” Moore said. “To go out there and play their hardest and not slack on anything. Singles, doubles, it doesn’t matter. I just expect them to play their best. I know these girls are capable of winning and playing well. They just need to go out and do it.”