Every year, Carson High girls tennis coach Diane Baker Roberts comes into the season not knowing what to expect and by the end of the season, she is pleasantly surprised.
While Roberts still doesn't know what to expect, she is already pleased enough with her team to have somewhat of an idea of what's going to happen. "I'm going to be more surprised than I expected," she said. "It's going to be fun."
Carson will again look to make the Northern 4A playoffs and it should be a challenge for the Senators to gain one of the four qualifying sports from the Sierra League. After overwhelming league favorite Reno High, Carson, Douglas, South Tahoe and North Tahoe should all be in the playoff race. "We might be in there," Roberts said.
One thing Roberts wasn't surprised about was the turnout in which nearly 40 players have come out. But Roberts has been surprised by the number of newcomers who are challenging for playing time.
Roberts also noted that there could be some returning players who will not see as much time at the beginning of the year. "They know they're just going to have to work a little harder," said Roberts about some of her returning players.
The top two singles players who are set in the lineup are returning verterans Shanni Eng and Lisa Midboe. Eng is one of three seniors on the team along with Hilary Schlager and Amanda Gohr.
Amanda will team with her sister, Elizabeth Gohr, as one of the doubles squads. "They played all summer long," Roberts said. "It's paid off." Roberts added that the program's summer programs is beginning to pay dividends.
Among other top players will be Emily Wang, who Roberts said has the "most beautiful stroke on the team when it comes to form." There's also Schlager. "She's playing well," Roberts said.
Another player who should be in the starting lineup is Magan Carter. "She's improving every day," Roberts said.
Another veteran who missed last year, but is back is Desi Casci. Other players who are expected to challenge for playing time are returners Sarah Asp and Kristen Charles in doubles, freshman Elise Hansen, sophomore Melissa Whitcome, another returner, and Olivia Lesperance.
Two other players who Roberts expects to crack the lineup in doubles later in the year are Kristi Philippi and Jenny Hood.
Roberts admitted her team's strength is in singles. "We have a lot of singles players that will have to become doubles players," Roberts said.
With Carson stronger in singles, it shouldn't be hurt as much by this year's scoring system in which singles and doubles will be awarded one point. Three singles players and three doubles teams all play three sets and matches could end up in a tie. If a match ends up in a tie, the team that won the most total games will be awarded the victory.
While Roberts admitted she wasn't too fond of the new scoring system, she's not that concerned about it.
Carson will open the season on Aug. 30 at Truckee. The Senators will end the year on Sept. 29 at Douglas in a match that could have playoff implications. "We'll be better by then," Roberts said.