Carson High had one of its best boys tennis seasons in recent memory, and coach Hal Wilkins is hoping his young group can duplicate that effort.
The Senators compiled an 8-3 record, losing to Galena, Reno and Bishop Manogue.
Wilkins returns three players — No. 2 singles player Taylor Saarem and the doubles tandem of Nico Salm and Jayson Artz — who reached the regional tournament a year ago. He has four other players — Ryan Tomita, Henry Sturm, Danny Dudley and Zach Simms who all saw action a year ago.
All told, Wilkins has 25 players on the roster, and he was happy with that number.
“We had a good turnout,” Wilkins said. “Most of the kids are returners. We got three freshmen which isn’t too bad. I don’t actively recruit. It’s typical to get more “new” guys as sophomores.
“We have tons of depth. We aren’t super strong at the top. We’re not strong enough to compete with Reno. There isn’t much difference betwee our 12th or 13th guy and our No. 6 guy.”
Saarem has moved into the No. 1 position entering next Thursday’s opener at home against Spanish Springs. Tomita and Sturm, who saw mop-up duty last year, will hold down the second and third spots.
“Taylor finished last season very well,” Wilkins said. “He lost a heartbreaker in three sets in the second round of regionals. It was the same guy that he’d lost to during the regular season. I don’t even think he took a set off the guy.”
Salm, Artz, Dudley and Simms are all ticketed for doubles play, though Wilkins has yet to determine who’s going to be paired up. He has two more players to decide on before he can come up with a starting lineup.
“I haven’t decided on a ladder yet,” Wilkins said. “We’ll know more Friday or Monday.”
Clark takes over girls squad
Former South Tahoe coach Justin Clark, an assistant last year with Diane Baker-Roberts last year, has taken over the top spot.
“It’s a great honor to work with the Carson High athletic program,” Clark said earlier this week. “I like their approach to academics and athletics.
“I’m excited to be here, and I want to live up to the past coaches, Pat Houlihan and Diane Baker-Roberts.”
Çlark was part of six state titles at South Tahoe High (2004-2013). He has run the successful Tahoe Tennis Academy, which he has run out of the Centennial Park Tennis Complex the past couple of years.
He inherits a team who posted a 6-5 record and returned three top-notch players in Shaylin Segura, Emma Breeding and Anya Woodbury. The trio will occupy the top three singles slots.
Amanda Schulz, Emily McCaskill, Nancy Henricksen, Elise Brady, Anna Glenn, Heather Lamotte and Makaela Asby will battle for doubles slots. Adding depth are Terryn Earle and Kaylee Gordon.
Clark would like nothing better than to elevate Carson’s program to the upper part of the league.
“We were 6-5 last year, but we lost some close matches,” Clark said. “We could have easily been 9-2 or we also could have been 3-8.”
Clark believes it will take more commitment from players to compete with the upper echelon teams.
“We had over 35 players at the academy this year,” Clark said. “We had kids from 5 to 17. There has to be a feeder system. We have a group of fifth through eighth graders playing the game. You have to keep playing (year-round), not just when it’s in season. That is what it will take to compete with the top teams in the league.”