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Carson girls tennis hopes to build on last year’s playoff berth

The Carson High girls tennis program may resemble a Chinese fire drill at times, but that’s a good thing.

That’s because Carson has 28 girls out for this year’s team, giving Diane Baker — in her second year of her second duty as the Senators coach — a challenge she more than welcomes. There are nearly 60 players out for this year’s Carson boys and girls tennis teams and the two squads have been sharing the courts at Centennial Park during the preseason. “Right now it’s looking like total chaos, which it is,” Baker said.

Over the last two years, Baker has had a large number of players to build a program. There are also a large number of freshmen and sophomores this year.

“We kept quite a few to build them for next year,” said Baker about the sophomores who player last year.

Baker also has a strong nucleus back from last year in which Carson placed third in the Sierra League and advanced to the zone playoffs. The Senators sustained a close first round loss to McQueen in the playoffs.

With many returners this year, a realistic goal for Carson is to at least make it past the first round of the playoffs. But the competition should be strong with traditional northern powers Reno, Galena and Douglas possibly leading the way again. “I think we’re a little stronger,” said Baker about her team.

A total of 15 boys and girls participated consistently in workouts this past summer.

Carson’s girls team is also strong academically. “We have a lot of good academics on this team as well,” Baker said. “I don’t have to worry about so and so being ineligible.”

Carson’s top player, senior Natalie Rogers, returns and figures to be one of the top players in the north after advancing to the zone tournament last year. Baker said a state berth for Rogers is a realistic goal.

“I’m hoping she does go to zone and do well and make it to state,” Baker said.

The leading candidates for the other two singles spots are Kelsey Joyce, who also advanced to zone last year, and Michelle Van Epps.

The format remains the same with nine players — three in singles and three teams in doubles — playing a total of 18 matches.

While effectively there’s no difference in the scoring, it has been doubled from 1 to 2 points in singles and from 1 1/2 to 3 points in doubles to conform with the Southern section’s scoring format.

While the doubles teams aren’t set, there’s enough experience to give Baker options. Among others who are returning include Amber Whitworth, Janae Jeppson, Katie Elverum and Simone Kuckenmeister.

Greta Schnaser, an experienced player who played both singles and doubles last year, will likely do the same again this year as will other players, Baker said. “She played both well last year and did well in each,” Baker said.

In this past weekend’s Carson City tournament, Jeppson placed second in her division in singles and Elverum and Kuckenmeister won a tough three-set match on their way to placing second in doubles in their division.

Another returner is Staci Cobler. “Staci Cobler’s going to help us somewhere,” Baker said.

Among the other players expected to contribute is Amy Milholland. Baker said other players could move up the ladder as the year progresses.

“It might be interesting to see who makes it up to the top 10 or 12 by the end of the year,” Baker said.

Carson opens the season on Tuesday at Truckee.