The girls tennis team at Yosemite High School is a bit more fierce, a bit more motivated, and a bit more experienced this year. And that’s got their head coach confident about a run at the North Sequoia League championship.
As a squad that returns its top six singles players and an influx of 10 freshman, coach Aaron Eames says the mix of experience and new talent has his team on the hunt.
“I think we have a great shot at that league title,” Eames said. “We’re getting real close to it. It wouldn’t surprise me if we were able to take it this year.”
The Badgers finished last season on a 3-7 record, with six sophomores among its top eight players.
Five of them make up this year’s top single players as juniors, starting with No. 1 Lauren Wharton followed by Ari Bhalla, Kendall Miller, Emilie Neff, Jen Springer, the lone senior on the team, and Madeline Sloas at No. 6.
Eames said that amount of experience will help a talented new class of players - many who have played tennis before high school, he said - and provide a strong base this season and into the future.
“That consistency and being a year older, a year more mature, with another year of playing competitive tennis makes a big difference,” Eames said. “I could tell when these girls were freshman they were going to be really good. So we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what they can do. We’re looking forward to a really good year.”
For Wharton and Bhalla, taking on teams like last season’s 12-3 Liberty-Madera Ranchos is a welcome challenge.
“I hit a little harder than last year,” Wharton said. “I’m ready.”
But the two also look to challenge each other for their team’s No. 1 spot, as Wharton moved into the Valley singles playoffs last year.
“We traded off a few times last year, but we’ll be happy to face each other again,” Bhalla said. “Plus, we’re both looking forward to getting out here every day, having fun, and getting to know all the new players on the team.”
The team’s first league game will be at home against Chowchilla High School starting at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 6.