For many of the girls on the Hood River Valley tennis team, senior year is all about having fun and finishing their high school careers on a positive note.
For some, that note is winning a district title. For others, it’s qualifying for state. And for most everyone, it’s about improving their game from the first match to the last.
“I don’t think about districts or state very much,” said senior No. 1 singles player Jodie Gates. “I just want to do my personal best and play consistent tennis throughout the year.”
Consistency will be the key for the Eagles this year as they begin their first season of Intermountain Conference competition. Few of the players know what to expect, but if they rely on their experience, they believe they have a good shot of qualifying a few players for state.
“I really hope I get back to state this year,” said senior Ashley Nunamaker, who qualified in 2001 along with Lauren Emmerson.
Because Emmerson chose to participate in other activities this season, Nunamaker is paired up with senior 2002 state qualifier Corinne Oates on the No. 1 doubles team. And both players would like to make their way back to the Big Dance.
“I don’t necessarily plan to win at state. I just want to get there,” Nunamaker said. “Corinne and I get along well on the court, and we have been working well together early on.”
Led by Nunamaker, Oates and Gates, the varsity team boasts eight seniors, who should make the Eagles competitive in a traditionally strong league.
Also looking to crack the top three at the IMC district competition will be the No. 2 doubles team of Elie Meierbachtol and Brittany Reed. Junior Gena Folts and sophomore Emily Sager, the No. 2 and 3 singles players, will also be working toward a state berth this season.
“I’m really pleased with where we are in the early season,” coach Barb Hosford said. “Many of the kids have been playing on their own time, and I credit Kevin Beeson at the Hood River Sports Club for helping make it fun for them.”
Hosford said she was almost overwhelmed with the turnout this year (30), and may have to make a few cuts to comprise a roster of 18.
“I’m impressed with the sport’s popularity this year,” she said. “That bodes well for the future because we will definitely be affected by graduation.”
Three more seniors hoping to make an impact on the varsity roster are No. 4 singles player Jazzy Cohen, No. 3 doubles player Lindsay Brown, and No. 4 doubles player Michi Aniwanter, an exchange student from Austria.
Aniwanter will team up with sophomore Erin Hart, while Brown will join forces with junior Jessica Young.
“Our lineup is pretty much set right now, which is nice,” Hosford said. “But everyone is going to have to do the work.”