By Ray Conner
The Lady Broncs tennis squad will be taking their talents to court as they begin a new season.
After winning two straight High Desert League championships, Kern Valley will have to gather its troops and prepare to be competitive with a target on their backs. It marked the second time in school history they won back to back league titles.
The Lady Broncs’ head coach Brian Christianson is back to lead the team. He enters his 18th year, but even he is not sure, as the years are blending together. He will be assisted by Jane Maki and currently has 14 athletes cleared to play tennis.
With only one senior on the squad, the Lady Broncs will need to get plenty of help from the underclassmen. Hannah Hurley is the lone senior on the team. She is joined by four juniors: Hannah Ocampo, Maddie Hurley, Kaitlin Davenport, and Riley Quinn. Aislynne Chappel, Aidan Schultz, Leanna Ibarra, Cara Parks, and Hailey Edge make up the sophomores on the Lady Broncs. The freshmen include Nikki Brooks, Jaydyn Miller, and River Sartor.
Kern Valley returns six players this season, but these six have limited match experience. Christianson said, “We have six returners, but only two with any real match experience. Ocampo played as a freshman, didn’t play last year and is back now.” Other returners include Chappel, M. Hurley, Schultz, H. Hurley, and Davenport.
For the season, the coach wants his players to have fun playing tennis now and to be able to continue to play it their whole life. When asked, as the coach, what his goal is, Christianson said, “I want the girls on the team to enjoy learning a lifetime sport.”
For the players, his goal is to not only learn the game of tennis, but to enjoy it as they are learning. He said, “To learn and enjoy the game of tennis,” when asked what his goal is for the players this season.
Losing seven seniors has put the Lady Broncs in a tough spot, but Christianson is confident that he can lead this group to do good things when they take to court to compete.
He is excited about the number of freshmen out for the team this season. Christianson was asked who the potential key additions to the team are.He said, “Too early to tell, but I’m happy with all the underclassmen out for tennis this year. Definitely happy to have Ocampo back.”
In the non-league portion of the schedule the coaches want to see who steps up. They will need that to battle for a league title. Getting the team in competitive shape to see which players belong playing singles and to learn who the doubles teams will be this year.
Christianson said, “We will need to solidify our ladder and figure out our doubles teams.”
In the HDL, Kern Valley is the defending champion. They will have to battle to make history as they will face three tough league opponents. When asked who are the teams to beat in league? Christianson responded, “It seems like the league is going to be pretty tough again this year. Desert will be deep, Bishop will be strong as usual, and Rosamond is always scrappy.”
He sees the strength of his team in a pair of Lady Broncs that have the most match experience. He said, “Hannah Hurley and Maddie Hurley will lead this team.”
On the other side of that question, he sees the area that needs the most work is in getting the younger players some court time, and the Hurley sisters being good teammates ill help them. Christianson said, “I like the leadership that H. Hurley and M. Hurley are providing, especially in helping the younger players. This team will really improve as the season progresses.”
In closing Christianson said, “We love the support the students and the community give the team. We enjoy seeing you at our home matches.”
Despite the youth of his players, it seems that the head coach of the Lady Broncs tennis team has a game plan to be competitive and allow his team to grow in the process.
Kern Valley started their season with a match today when they went on the road to Granite Hills in Porterville. The match will start at 4 p.m.