By Ray Conner
Kern Valley Sun
The strings are taut, the courts are being made playable, and the Lady Broncs are getting ready to make a racket.
Kern Valley’s girls tennis team will open non-league play on Sept. 10 when they travel to Granite Hills (Porterville).
This season, Brian Christianson will again lead the troops. This will be his 20th year at the helm. Assistant coach, Jane Mackey will be back to lend Christianson a hand.
Currently the team has about 20 girls signed up to play, but a couple have to wait to get cleared.
The Lady Broncs have two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores, and nine freshmen on the team.
The seniors are Maddie Hurley and Hayley Weeden. The juniors are Aidan Schultz, Kaitlin Davenport, Riley Quinn, and Aislynne Chappel. The sophomores include River Sartor, Nikki Brooks, and Gracie Surico.
Wrapping up the rest of the squad are freshmen, Kristin Surico, Korrine Wild, Kameryn Harris, Eva Brennan, Kylie Weeden, Emily Hayes, Annelyse Alten, Lacey Benton, and Ruby Quinn.
Of those 18 Lady Broncs, seven are returners. Coming back for the Lady Broncs are Hurley, Schultz, Davenport, Riley Quinn, Chappell, Sartor, and Brooks.
When Christianson was asked what his goal as the coach this season he gave the response most people would expect. His first priority is to become the champions of the High Desert League, with an emphasis on learning the game of tennis.
Christianson said, “Our goal is to win league, while learning how to play a lifetime sport.”
For his players, Christianson has set a goal of teaching the squad how to play tennis and to also be competitive on the court.
When asked what his goal was for the players Christianson said, “To learn how to play and compete in tennis.”
Trying to cover a big loss from last year’s team will be a high priority for the Lady Broncs coach. He was asked who were some of the key losses from last year’s team?
He was quick to respond, “Hannah Hurley.”
To follow up and see who might step in to help the team this season Christianson was asked who might be potential key additions to this year’s squad. He didn’t settle on just a few, he put it back on all of the new players.
He said, “I am excited to see which of the new players really steps up this season.”
In the non-league, the Lady Broncs will play four matches. For his team, Christianson is looking to solidify his team when it comes time for HDL action. Of course the competition will be fierce. Kern Valley will be taking on a pair of CIF Division 4 teams and two CIF Division 5 squads.
Christianson commenting about the non-league said, “We have a difficult non-league schedule, and it should provide our players with some good competition to prepare them for league. It is also during the non-league portion of the season that our ladder gets formed and solidified.”
The HDL seems to be very competitive every year. Kern Valley’s head coach thinks that every team has a shot including his own.
He hopes his team can overcome rival Bishop and then take apart last year’s champions Desert.
Christianson said, “I think the HDL will be a very balanced league this year with anyone being able to win. However, Desert is always able to juggle their line up in order to be competitive in matches. And of course our matches against rival Bishop are always good.”
Christianson sees the strength of his team in the area of serving and net play that seems to be a mainstay for the Lady Broncs tennis squad.
Christianson when asked about these strengths said, “I want to continue to build upon our strength in serving and net play that we have had in the last couple of years. Of course, time will tell whether or not our strength is in singles or doubles play.”
On the flip side it seems unforced errors are the key in any tennis team. If you can cut down on those then you have a better chance of being successful as a team. When asked what were the areas that needed work? Christianson said, “Right now we really want to cut down on unforced errors.”
In closing, Christianson said, “Right now, Laurie Taylor from Palm Springs and the Kern County Tennis Association have really helped out our program with donations, and we really appreciate their support. We also want to encourage everyone to come out to our tennis matches and support the team.”
Whatever takes place this season, one thing that is a given, the coaching staff, the players, and their supporters will make it exciting, win or lose.