Girls Tennis: Strathmore loses 7-2 to Tulare Western to begin the 2017 season


By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

STRATHMORE – It was a long summer, but with the first swings of the tennis racquets in the Spartans’ (0-1) 7-2 home opener, and their loss to the Tulare Western Mustangs (1-0), high school sports officially started in the foothills area. The off-season rust was plain to see in their Aug. 17 match as they found it difficult to find a rhythm, which leaves a lot of room for improvement before they begin East Sequoia League play next week.

“Hopefully, this shakes off that rust and gains us some match experience and toughness,” said the Spartans’ head coach Ryan McCusker.
The rust affected the Spartans’ speed on the courts and their ability to charge after the ball. Instead, they too often waited at the baseline for the ball to come to them, making it difficult to get any power and forcing them to hit the ball up and off their back foot.

That mistake hindered even the Spartans’ top player Arelli Adams in her 8-6 loss to Tatiana Sanchez. It took Adams’ losing the first five sets of the match to begin stepping forward off the baseline and challenging the ball.

When Adams finally moved up, she started rallying with Sanchez, showing her confidence with her forehand and backhand capabilities. She even worked her way up into a tie at 5-5.

“I did not want to lose 0-8. So I needed to do this and at least try to get even with [Sanchez],” said Adams.

All but one of the Spartans’ single matches started out slow, and only Adams got past five set wins. Their only win in the single matches came off the racquet of sophomore Neha Reddy. She was playing like a seasoned veteran and jumped out to at 5-1 lead in sets. Her ability to return shots hit on both sides of the court with her forehand was a big part of her success, leading to an 8-5 win.

“She started off pretty quick and her ground game was consistently hitting the ball deep in to the opponent’s court,” said Coach McCusker.
Later, Adams and Reddy paired up in the top doubles match and helped the Spartans win the match 8-5.

The rust better be shaken off or at least loose when the Spartans took on the Mission Oak Hawks last Tuesday, Aug. 22. The final of that game happened after press time.

On Thursday, Aug 24, the Spartans will travel to Hanford to face the Sierra Pacific Golden Bears for their first East Sequoia League contest.

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