Tennis teams exceed expectations in record-setting year |

Tennis teams exceed expectations in record-setting year

Thomas Ranson

It was the age of tennis this fall.

Finishing as the school’s most successful sport in the new school year, the Lady Wave tennis team blew past expectations. Fallon never lost to a Division 3A North opponent. It won both the regular season and regional titles. And it had the best singles player and top two doubles teams in the league.

Not a bad year for the green and white.

Fallon’s doubles teams shined against in the state team tournament at Desert Pines, picking up two points in each of the three rounds.

Regional champs and senior duos of Izzy Martinez and Kayla Bekiares, and Lana Quint and Paula Duenas each went 2-1 against the Jaguars. Senior Makela McCormick and freshman Brooklynn Whitaker also won two matches.

In singles, senior and regional champ Melanie Nuckolls was the lone victor as she won in her third and final attempt.

In the state singles and doubles tournament, Martinez and Bekiares, Quint and Duenas, and Nuckolls qualified for state but lost in the opening round.

And while Fallon had its best year in program history, next year team will have a large void to overcome. The Lady Wave will lose nine players to graduation, returning only four. Delaney Young, Kiley Woolsey and Sarah Inglis will graduate in the spring.

But don’t count Fallon out.

Fallon coach Jessica Nuckolls and her husband, Jesse, who coaches the boys team, continue to study the sport and will bring even more knowledge to the game next fall. She felt that was a large difference in the state tournament with the teams from the south.

“A lot of those coaches played in college and they’re professional players,” she said. “Just having that wealth of knowledge, (Southern Nevada coach) has several steps above us. That’s something both my husband and I are excited about. We’ve been watching tennis videos. My husband’s been watching more about strategy.”

On the other side, the boys program improved, too, and made the team regional tournament and sent one player to the state championships.

Although the boys were ousted in the team tournament, senior Mattia Astori advanced to state in singles after an upset in the third-place match of regionals. Astori, though, lost to The Meadows in the first round of state.

Fortunately for the boys team, it will lose only two to graduation. In addition to Astori, Dylan Kubeny will graduate next spring.

Both coaches, though, want to create more tennis awareness at the younger levels, which will boost the high school program and help absorb losing players.

“Get more of an awareness at younger age in this town to help Fallon stay competitive,” Jessica Nuckolls said. “Most of these kids we’ve talked, to, all of the upperclassmen playing tennis now wished they played tennis as freshmen.”

The Nuckolls plan on conducting tennis sessions weekly in the spring and then will ramp it up in the summer.

“We’ve made it pretty competitive,” Jessica Nuckolls said.