For both Hood River Valley tennis teams this season, it’s good to be young.
The two teams will have a significantly different look this year than last, when both used rosters loaded with seniors.
The boys team was practically gutted through graduation, and head coach Jon Hiatt came into the spring with only four players committed to his roster.
The girls team has more numbers, but nearly as many questions over who is going to play in what spot.
The Eagles know Emily Roberts will be half of the No.1 or No. 2 doubles team and that Frances Burns will be the No.1 singles player. Beyond that it’s pretty much up in the air.
The team has 22 total members, and 13 of them are freshmen or sophomores.
Instead of getting some seasoning at the JV level, many of the younger players are going to take their lumps on the varsity level this year, but HRV girls coach Leslie Kerr believes that will pay dividends down the road.
“This year a lot of these kids are going to be playing up,” Kerr said. “It’s an advantage to the younger kids to play at another level … it is definitely a step up in terms of the competition.”
The Eagles are also hoping for a good season out of junior Emilee Ziegner, who will likely play both doubles and seniors and had a strong finish to sophomore season to finish eighth at the district tournament.
“A lot of these kids can take a big jump; it’s just hard to say who it will be and when it will be,” said Kerr.
The Eagle boys will be relying even more on its youngsters than the girls team. Only two of the team’s 10 players return from last year: senior Story McKee and junior Nick Cooper.
Another four players are true tennis beginners.
“We are definitely a very young team this year,” said HRV coach Jon Hiatt.
The Eagle coach is still trying to making sense of his doubles line up, but has a fairly good idea of the singles lineup
A pair of talented freshmen, Scott Ziegner and Ryan Andrews, figure to be at the front of the line to anchor a singles line up with returner McKee.
“Those are some guys to watch out for,” said Hiatt.