Carson boys tennis optimistic | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson boys tennis optimistic

In his three years as Carson High boys tennis coach, Pat Houlihan has seen a gradual improvement in his players each season.

This year is no different. “They’re a little better than they were last year,” Houlihan said. “I still have a pretty good nucleus. We’re young. But they’re working hard.”

Even though Carson is still a relatively young team, it does have plenty of talented athletes who have experience on the court. The top five players are expected to be Chris Weir, Bryt Lewis, Josh Caron and Devon Anderson.

Weir, Lewis and Caron are all talented players in Carson’s baseball program and Anderson was a member of last year’s state title team in boys skiing. All are also returning veterans in Carson’s tennis program.

There’s also plenty of other returners, including two other talented baseball players in Nick Smallman and Nathanial Hamer and Tyler Lewis, Todd Crowell, Kyle Boschult, Chris Basette, Ryan Zaro Daniel Neiman, Matt Kengott, Wheeler Cowperthwaite and Ryan Jeppson.

Carson also has plenty of newcomers who will compete for playing time, including Ryan Dwyer, Adam Houghton, who has run for the Senators’ cross country team, Alex and Tyler Wing, James Pelz, Ian Getner, Tom Dudley, Chris Funk and Ben Henningson and freshman Brad Cobler.

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Houlihan has about 28 players on his team and out of that group, his task is to find three singles players and six players who can make up three doubles teams. He’s already off to a good start in doing that as the program held a United States Professional Tennis Association skills test to determine the skill level of the players.

“There’s a lot of equal abilities,” Houlihan said. “I think we’ll be O.K. The thing about this sport is being able to implement drills into play.”

Houlihan said his task right now is to find “nine players that can play. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Reno and Galena should again be Northern Nevada’s top teams and Douglas will also have a strong team. Houlihan hopes his team will be able to qualify for the zone playoffs. Carson opens at Truckee on Tuesday.

“Everything we do on the court here we try to do for a purpose,” Houlihan said. “We want to stay competitive when we’re on the court.”

OLYMPIC CONNECTIONS

The Carson area has a connection to at least three medal winners during the ongoing Olympics in Greece. On Tuesday, Bryan Clay won the silver medal in the decathlon. His coach, Kevin Reid, who is the Azusa Pacific track coach who coached Clay at the school, is a 1983 Carson High graduate.

On Wednesday, Rulon Gardner won the bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling’s heavyweight division. Gardner’s older sister, Dr. Gerri Gardner, lives in Gardnerville and is a cardiologist with Sierra Nevada Cardiology Associates who works at Carson-Tahoe Hospital. Gardner was in Greece to watch the emotional moment when Gardner left his shoes on the mat after he won his bronze, a tradition when a wrestler retires.

“He took his shoes off, got the bronze and he got a standing ovation,” Dr. Gardner said. “We were all crying. He cried and everyone was crying. It was really emotional.”

Gardner couldn’t equal his effort in 2000 when he pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history in Sydney, Australia, when he beat Aleksandr Karelin for the gold. Karelin hadn’t lost in 15 years.

Gardner was denied a chance at gold in an overtime, 4-1 loss in the semifinals against Kazahkstan’s Georgi Tsurtsumia.

“He actually had control of the match,” Dr. Gardner said. “He just lost it on the clinch. He was bummed about that.”

But with all the adversity he’s been through since Sydney – including a near-death experience in 2002 in a snowmobile accident in the Wyoming backcountry – Gardner said her brother should be proud of his bronze. “It’s great,” she said. “Everything that he’s been through, bronze is like gold for him.”

Another athlete who has ties to Carson City could retire after going for gold today. Brandi Chastain, the granddaughter of Carson City’s Roger and Hazel Chastain, and the U.S. women’s soccer team will go for gold today when they play Brazil. While Chastain has made no announcement, today’s game could be the final one of her career.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor. Contact him at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com pr 881-1214.