Athletic Lady Vikings have plenty of room to grow this season

Youth is the buzzword for the Forest Grove girls tennis team this season.

Not only did the Vikings graduate six varsity players off of last year’s squad, but this year’s roster of some 40-plus players includes about 18 sophomores.

Given all of that, coach Kelli Tusow is excited to see her team’s development over the course of the season, and she believes her players could come a long way by the time the season wraps up in May.

“I have a lot of younger girls, but the great thing is that they are really athletic,” Tusow said. “And so I think that we’re going to see a lot of progress throughout the season, because I think that even though they’re so young, they’re going to learn a lot really quickly given how athletic they are.”

The Vikings’ top doubles team of Melissa Dominguez and Diana Gamez, Tusow said, is looking good in the early going. The two girls also were paired up last year and pulled out a three-set win in the team’s season-opening match against West Salem on Monday.

“They just are looking really confident, really positive,” Tusow said. “They (were) really upbeat today, even in a three-set match, which can get kind of mentally tough. They are looking like definite leaders on the team in that position.”

Tusow also pointed out the important role the players on her No. 2 doubles tandem, seniors Charlotte Sidman and Tess Sivak, fulfill on the squad.

“Playing at No. 2, they’re definitely huge leaders on the team,” Tusow said. “They’re really positive. They’re really great with all the girls and cheering them on.”

As for the singles side, Tusow pointed out junior Karimi Nyamu, who played in the No. 1 spot for the Vikings on Monday. Nyamu was new to the sport last spring, and Tusow expects to see a lot of progress in her game this season.

“Now that she has a little bit of confidence after playing for a year, she should kind of start to see a big difference in her,” Tusow noted. “She is really consistent and does a lot of good ground strokes from the baseline.”

Among the younger players, freshman Esther Vega has Tusow excited about her athleticism, and sophomore Leslie Aguilar played well in her No. 4 singles spot on Monday, when Tusow got to see her team in action for the first time this season. The Titans prevailed 6-2, but, Tusow noted, several of the matches were long battles.

“Given that we might need a little bit of experience under our belt, the first half of the year I think might be a little tougher for us, but I think that we’ll definitely see major improvements as we go along,” Tusow said. “That’s my goal.”

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