The regular season came to a close for the Del Norte tennis team on Tuesday, a little more than two weeks after the postseason ended at the Humboldt-Del Norte singles and doubles championships.
Although the match between the Warriors and Northcoast Preparatory Academy had no effect on the overall season standings, both teams still wanted to make up the meet for a little extra experience.
“Since this didn’t really count for anything as far as the HDN finals or anything like that, this was basically just a make up that the Northcoast coach wanted to have,” said Del Norte head coach Rivers Drown. “I obliged because the more tennis the better — you can never have enough tennis.”
With the match coming after the HDN tournaments have already been played, Tuesday’s competition was a little bit less formal than a typical league meet. For instance, Del Norte’s top singles player Zack Lor played both the No. 1 singles, and the No. 2 singles matches. Both teams still competed hard, however, on a windy day in Crescent City.
“Today was a lot more relaxed. The boys went out there and just had a good time,” Drown said. “They still played well though. Many of the games went to duce, and 30-40, so there were a lot of close games. They had a good time too. They were laughing and joking around with the other team out there.”
None of Del Norte’s players managed up pull out a win against the Herons, but that had more to do with the quality of the competition.
“They pretty much got us today,” Drown said. “You are talking about the No. 2 team, pretty much throughout their lineup. Congratulations to them, because they have an opportunity to apply for the North Coast Section Tournament.”
Tuesday’s meet officially brings the Warrior’s season to a close. Although Arcata was clearly the best team in the league this year, with Northcoast Prep a close second, Del Norte put together a solid season to finish in the top half of the league as a team in Drown’s first season as Del Norte’s head coach.
“In my first year coaching I had an absolute blast with these boys,” Drown said. “I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy it. At first I was trying to get to know them a little bit, but it didn’t take us long before we really had a rapport.”
The Warriors came into the season with three returning players, and a handful of newcomers. Drown said he is proud of the improvement he has seen from everyone on the team this year.
“A few of the boys really got a lot better this year,” he said. “I saw them all improve, but I would say Tyler Stanley is probably my most improved player from day one to what you saw today, and the things he is able to do with a racquet. It is just night and day.”
Del Norte’s only senior on the team this year is foreign exchange student Jaroslav Grueny. The rest of the Warriors will be eligible to return to the team next season.
“I hope all the boys stick with it,” Drown said. “I want them back next year, and I want them to keep playing not just through high school but for life. This is a lifelong sport.”
Drown said he plans to be back as coach next year, and he hopes to keep the players engaged in the sport through his first offseason.
“We are going to take a little bit of a rest, but I want to resume playing tennis in June,” Drown said. “It isn’t really practice, but I want to have invitations to come out and hit around throughout the summer. It isn’t anything mandatory, but I just want to keep these guys moving and hitting the ball so that we don’t have a ton of work to do in January when practice starts back up.”