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Elise Patchen of Fremont High School hits a forehand during a match last season. Patchen, a senior, returns for the Tigers in 2019. 

Athleticism and experience should help the Fremont High School varsity girls tennis players become another tournament-tough-team in 2019, Coach Jeremy Larsen said.

“As a team, we performed very well in tournaments last year,” Larsen said. “I expect us to be just as competitive this year, with a lot of the pieces back from last year’s team.”

Some of those pieces are the four returning starters that will lead this year’s team. Two of those starters are senior Elise Patchen and sophomore Hannah Wilson, who posted a combined 6-13 record in their singles matches last spring.

Two other returning starters are senior Miah Vakiner and junior Lexi Glosser, who posted a 4-8 record playing as the No. 2 doubles team in 2018.

“Elise, Miah, Lexi and Hannah all return with varsity experience and I expect them all to be even better this year,” said Larsen. “We have an experienced group returning and I expect them to be the leaders of our team to help us improve this season.”

To go along with all that experience, Larsen believes the overall athleticism of his players will help the Tigers perform well in the seven tournaments they compete in this season.

“Our biggest strength with this team will be our athleticism,” Larsen said. “We have a lot of girls that are able to move well on the court which will put them in position to extend points.”

A pair of tournaments that Larsen believed his team played very well in last year were the Fremont Invitational (fourth out of 10 teams) and the Millard West Invite (eighth out of 16 teams).

“I thought we played smart at those tournaments and didn’t make a lot of unforced errors,” Larsen said. “We also had favorable draws and took advantage of them.”

In addition to his four returning starters, Larsen said he’s excited about the progress of six other players (seniors Anna Baskova, Payton Eyler and Madi Huss, sophomore Tawnie Escamilla, and freshmen Jules Schmidt and Grace Blick) who possess the potential to earn some varsity playing time this spring.

“The other two varsity spots are still being decided,” Larsen said, “as we have a few girls that are still battling for them. The first thing we will need to do is figure out how our pieces fit together this season. We will try some different lineups early in the season to see who fits where and who plays well together in doubles.”

As the Tigers continue to prepare for their season-opening match, a road contest Tuesday at Lincoln North Star, Larsen said he still has a few areas of concern.

“An area that we need to improve on is our movement and communication in doubles,” Larsen said. “Another area is cutting down on unforced errors. We need to keep working on our consistency in our ground strokes and volleys.”

Even with those concerns, Larsen said that once he settles on a starting lineup he’s confident that his team can improve upon last year’s 3-8 dual record.

“I see us improving overall as a team because of our experience and the girls’ desire to get better individually and as a team,” Larsen said. “A lot of the girls put time into their game throughout the off-season and that will pay off for them during the season.”

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