The Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears tennis team will begin season play with multiple matches in Anchorage on Friday
The only two underclassmen on last year’s state qualifying teams return from a talented graduating tennis class.
Senior Marc Heifetz and junior Emma Good will look to bring some of last year’s experience to a young but number-strong team.
Heifetz finished just out of the state top four in singles last season.
“Singles are tough,” JDHS coach Amy Skilbred said. “In Anchorage they have players who play year-round, tennis is their thing.”
Good teamed with Johnny Joyce last year in mixed doubles, falling 6-4, 6-4 in the state championship match. Joyce has since graduated, as has the girl’s third-place doubles team of Cassidy Davenport and Marlena Sloss, meaning the team is looking to field multiple spots.
“Emma is definitely one of our most talented girl players,” Skilbred said. “I think she can win a state title this season.”
Seniors include Heifetz, Pelle Arthur, Evan Carnahan, Sarah Landen, Jade Pilcher and Kathe Tallmadge.
Carnahan, who attended a school on the East Coast last year and competed at a higher competition level, is currently injured and could be one of the state’s best when ready to play.
Arthur is newer to Juneau and this is her first year as a Crimson Bears player, however, she is a former tennis player and will be one of the team’s top ranked girls.
Landen, Pilcher and Tallmadge have court experience as well.
Juniors include Neal Chapman, Jonny Connolly, Good, Will Pollard, and Barclay Weyhrauch.
Connolly has the most tennis time in the junior class.
Sophomores are Sam Bibb, Bailey Davenport, Taylor Flannagan, Joe Greenough, Jasper MacNaughton, Macleod Morehouse, Henry Prussing, Ben Scudder, and Catherine Walsh.
Bib and MacNaughton are bright spots according to coach Skilbred.
“I like that we have a large number of sophomores and freshmen,” Skilbred said. “It bodes well for the future and they all seem to be having fun, which is the most important part of playing tennis.”
Freshmen are Esme Crossett, Rain Dzinich, Olivia Fletcher, Robbie Janes, Anton Rieselbach, Jon Scudder, and Ryan Hoover.
“I am traveling with some players who have less experience,” Skilbred said. “I try to match them up with similar levels up at Anchorage. Everybody will probably play in three out of four of our matches this weekend.
On Friday JDHS will play Service at 3-5 p.m. and West Valley from 6-8 p.m. On Saturday the Crimson Bears face Chugiak from 9-11 a.m. and West from 12:30-2:30 p.m. All games will be on the Park Strip, weather permitting, and at the Alaska Club East if inclimate.
“The only way we can tell how we are doing is to play against these other schools,” Skilbred said. “We have some very strong players. We are still in the process of sorting out doubles partners. We have a lot of opportunities on the trip to see various kids paired up.”
This will be JDHS’ only early trip. A fundraising tournament will be held on Sept. 13-16 and the Southeast Tournament is Sept. 26-29, both are at The Racquet Club at the valley Alaska Club location.
The State Tournament is in Anchorage on October 2-4. JDHS will field boys and girls’ doubles and singles and mixed doubles teams at state, a total of four boys and four girls plus two alternates.
Past JDHS state tennis champions have included Merijke Coenraad and Steffan Wilcox in mixed doubles in 2009 and Hong Kong exchange student Ling Chan in women’s singles in 2007.
Chan actually won the first-ever girl’s singles state championship as 2007 was the inaugural tournament. At the time, Chan was the 15th ranked open and juniors ladies’ singles player in Hong Kong. She had won the 2004 Hong Kong National Junior Tennis Championship and the 2005 South Chinese Athletic Association Chairman’s Cup Title.
“All experience levels are great to have,” Skilbred said. “I love working with new comers as well as returning players. Tennis is a sport you can learn to play relatively easily, and as an activity it can last a lifetime.”
The team has included players from Thunder Mountain High School (the Falcons have an intramural program) and have an IDEA Student this season. Any interested tennis players are always welcomed to contact coach Skilbred through JDHS.