The sound of racquets is alive once again at Yosemite High School.
In the past two weeks, the Badgers girls tennis team has gone undefeated in its first three victories of the season, and their coach, Aaron Eames, is confident the team will continue those strong efforts to earn a North Sequoia League title.
“I think we’ll take another step forward this year,” Eames said. “Every year we’ve taken steps forward and with our young players growing up, we’ve gotten more and more competitive. I’d like to see us challenge for the league title this year.”
Last season, the Badger girls made it to the NSL playoffs but were unable to pull off a title win.
But to help, Eames said two new freshman players, four JV players who moved up to fill out four spots, and four returners will make a strong mix of new talent with experience that should help push the team into the top.
“I’ve had three of these seniors for four years, so to watch them develop over that time is really fun,” Eames said. “I know they’re going to have a good year. It’s always fun to watch their improved play after you’ve worked with them since they were freshman. They’ve come a long way and have improved their play, and the combination of younger players with those that are more experienced will be a great thing.”
Returning to the team
Among the returning group is the No. 1 singles player Lauren Wharton, now a senior who has played all four years.
She said the mix of new players and her longtime teammates will help provide balance, and strength.
“I feel like we’ve got a strong bunch of girls, mixed in with returning players and new ones,” Wharton said. “It’s fun to have familiar faces as well as new people because we can balance things out.”
No. 2 singles star Maddie Sloas, also a senior, agreed.
“I feel like we have some new faces on varsity,” Sloas said. “It’s always good to have the next round of people come up and perform well.”
Hosting Madera South on Monday, the Badgers swept the Stallions 9-0 with relative ease. In singles play, Wharton won 4-6, 6-1, and 10-2 in the tiebreaker, Sloas won 7-5, 6-0, No. 3 Kendall Miller won 6-1, 6-0, No. 4 Boston Thome won 6-1, 6-4, No. 5 Ashley Tune won 6-2, 2-6, and 15-13 in a tough tiebreaker, and No. 6 Rachel Baker won 6-1 (her opponent withdrew).
In doubles play, Wharton and Miller won 8-2, Sloas and Thome won 8-1, and Abby Lodge and Gabby Lazarcheff won 8-3.
Against Sunnyside to open the season on Aug. 22, Wharton was the lone defeat at 2-6, 2-6, but the Badgers bested the Wildcats 8-1.
Sloas won 6-2, 6-0, Miller won 6-0, 6-0, Thome won 6-0, 6-3, Tune won 6-1, 6-1, and Baker won 6-1, 6-2. In doubles, Wharton and Miller won 8-0, Sloas and Thome 8-4, and Lodge and Lazarcheff won 8-5.
Against Roosevelt on Aug. 24, the Badgers continued that strong play, winning the match 8-1. Everyone except Tune, the No. 5 singles player, won their match.
“I like the character of this team,” Eames said. “We have some true student athletes who are exceptional, and have great character.”