Clovis High girls tennis coach Billie Merritt has plenty of experience back. She just doesn’t know how everything will pan out.
Most of the Lady Wildcats’ varsity squad is back from last season. Clovis’ tennis squads open the season today and Saturday in a tournament hosted by Roswell Goddard.
The Lady Cats lost state singles qualifier Heather Trujillo, who moved to Albuquerque, and Adriana Soto to graduation. They return seniors Mandi Baca and Gabby Romero, juniors Kalee Haragan, Shay Brady and Audie Rodelo and freshman Alek Mendoza.
Jesenia Valez, an eighth-grader at Yucca, is expected to get plenty of playing time this season, said Merritt, beginning her 10th season in the program.
“Several of our ‘challenge’ matches (in practice) have gone three sets or had tiebreakers,” Merritt said. “I expect the order to change on a fairly regular basis.
Last year, the Lady Cats made it to state team competition in Albuquerque, losing to District 4-5A rival and eventual champion Carlsbad in the semifinals.
Merritt said she also plans to mix up the order and partners in doubles.
Look for that again, she said.
The boys, under second-year Tom Ebel, also return several players.
“We’ve got a lot of potential,” Ebel said. “Most of our team is back.”
Leading the way for the Wildcats is junior Andy North, who will play No. 1 singes. Sophomores Matt Tryan and Nate Carter will alternate at No. 2 and 3 singles, sophomore Jacob Carreon is No. 4 and juniors Seth Zarate and Deven Bhakta are in the Nos. 5 and 6 spots.
In doubles this weekend, it’ll be North and Cameron at No. 1, Tryan and Carter at No. 2 and Zarate and Bhakta at No. 3. Waiting in the wings are sophomore Kyle Ferguson and freshman Charlie Sharp.
It’s been quite a while — if ever — since Clovis has won a district championship. But Ebel is confident that they’ll be formidable.
“We’ve got a lot of potential,” he said. “We don’t have a senior, but most of our team is returning.”
Ebel thinks the Cats can challenge for a District 4-5A title.
“A couple of players didn’t return (from last year), but most of our team is back,” Ebel said. “We think we have a shot at winning it.”
13-14 — at Roswell Goddard Invitational, 8 a.m.; 26 — at Hereford tournament, 8 a.m.
13-14 — at Carlsbad tournament, 8 a.m.; 17 — vs. Las Vegas High and Portales, TBA; 19 — at Lovington, 3 p.m.; 27-28 — at Carlsbad tournament, 8 a.m.
3-4 — at Artesia tournament, 8 a.m.; 10-11 — at Portales tournament, 8 a.m.; 17-18 — at Hobbs tournament, 8 a.m.; 21 — at Hobbs, 1 p.m.-x; 23 — Carlsbad, 3 p.m.-x; 28 — Portales, 3 p.m.
1 — District tournament at Carlsbad, TBA.
All times Mountain. x-Denotes District 4-5A match.