Alta Tennis Has New Coach, New CourtsOct 07, 2015 12:59PM ● By Bryan Scott
Jordan senior Tabytha Jones is on the nubmer two doubles tennis team for the Beetdiggers. Jones is also a captain of the team.
By Ron Bevan
The Alta tennis team is helping break in the new courts built last year, with a new coach at the helm.
Camille Baird has taken over the program at Alta and is looking to make an impact her first season.
“I like the game of tennis and I have always liked Alta,” Baird said. “This position opened up and I jumped at the chance to coach here.”
One of the first changes she has made to the team is to keep it smaller than in the past. Previously, the Alta team was made up of as many as 30 members, and practice times even had to be staggered to get enough court time for each member.
“We had a bunch of players try out for the team this year,” Baird said, “but we kept the team smaller. We thought that by having a smaller team we could concentrate more on each player and help develop the team this year and the program for the future.”
Alta’s team boasts 18 girls, which helps spread athletes out among the seven varsity and seven junior varsity slots, with some extras to fill in when needed.
And, while there are several seniors and returning varsity members, this year’s team is being led by a young freshman. Emilee Astle has stormed onto the Alta scene and grabbed the number one singles spot.
“She has a good overall game,” Baird said of Astle. “She has done a lot of training workouts to get where she is. She is very consistent, especially with her groundstrokes.”
Behind Astle are two seniors who are still battling to see who would be in the number two and number three singles slots. Allison Pferdner and Hailee Horton have nearly equal skills and split time between the two positions as the team continues to evolve.
“They both have good game in them,” Baird said. “They are both consistent and tenacious.”
Horton held down the number two singles spot last season, posting a 9-4 record and making it to the state 5A tournament. Pferdner also posted a 9-4 record last year as a member of the team’s number two doubles pair.
While Pferdner used her abilities as a doubles player last season, Baird has moved her into the singles position to help solidify this year’s squad, and is seeing the move pay off as both Pferdner and Horton are pushing each other’s games to a higher level.
“We listen to the input of the girls as we decide who plays singles and who plays doubles,” Baird said. “But we also place them where it is best for them and best for the team.”
Accordingly, a former singles player has moved over to the number one doubles team. Kat Hickey has teamed with Emily Bithell as the top doubles squad for the Hawks. Hickey was the number three singles player for Alta last season, going 11-3 for the season and even picking up an opening-round win at the 5A state tournament. Bithell came up from the junior varsity ranks, and both girls are juniors this season.
The number two doubles team is made up of seniors Chantal Peck and Hannah Searle.
“They have played together in the past and seem to feed off each other,” Baird said. “They round out what we believe will be a strong varsity team this season.”