After finishing as the 3A state champion runner-up the past two seasons, Boulder City High School girls tennis team is definitely feeling the pressure to get the job done this season.
Bringing back nine key returners from last season’s 17-3 team that lost to The Meadows 11-4 in the state championship match, the Lady Eagles know this is their best chance with a majority of their core graduating after this season.
“There’s definitely pressure to go to state and win,” head coach Jami Pappas said. “These girls are very hungry for it. The girls that have been with me the past few years have grown together and worked hard together and they wanted it so bad last year that they’re just chomping at the bit to get it.”
Senior Olivia Mikkelson returns as the team’s anchor after earning 3A Southern Region player of the year honors last year. A two-time 3A singles state champion, Mikkelson nearly guarantees the Lady Eagles 3 points every time she takes the court.
“Being able to rely on her every time to go out there and earn us three points is huge,” Pappas said. “Having her anchor our singles really gives us a head start and allows me to count points before the match and make needed adjustments.”
Also returning for the Lady Eagles is senior Katelyn Fox, who helped earn third place at state in double last season and was named a All-Southern Region first-team selection. With her doubles partner from last season Natalie Bowman graduated, coach Pappas isn’t quite sure who will team with Fox at the moment, but she is confident the team has the right group of girls to remain successful.
“We’re fortunate enough to have some really good players who can fill a lot of roles,” Pappas said. “We have a lot of experience coming back; it’s just figuring out where to put everyone. We have a lot of options and that’s a good problem to have.”
Among those options are seniors Eugenia Kryshchuk and Tegan Pappas and sophomore Reggi Gibbs after earning All-Southern Region second-team honors.
Kryshchuk and Tegan Pappas paired for doubles last season, but are both capable of filling singles roles. Gibbs returns after a solid freshman year as a singles competitor.
Also returning for the Lady Eagles are seniors Sophia Morris and Olivia Leavitt, who paired together in doubles last season. Senior Rebecca Mulheron and junior Stephanie Bowman are expected to earn big roles in the Lady Eagles’ state championship quest.
“A lot of the girls have been playing over the summer, trying to get really good for the season so I think it’s really going to go good at state,” Tegan Pappas said. “A lot of us are seniors so we’re really trying to go in for the win.”
Boulder City opens its season Aug. 22 on the road at 4A Foothill, before hosting 4A Basic on Aug. 26. Perennial 3A power The Meadows come to town Aug. 29 for a state championship rematch, which should be a good indication of where the Lady Eagles are as a team and what they need to do to get better.
“We’re excited to start the season with them,” Jami Pappas said. “They’re really great competition and make us step up our game. Thankfully, we have a few tough matches before them to prepare. Foothill usually gives us a great game. It will be a great test for us.”
Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.