Scroll down to the bottom of the Nevada Preps tennis standings and you will find Pahrump Valley, listed alone as an independent with a record of 0-4.
Technically, that is correct. The Trojans completed the home portion of their schedule Thursday with another loss, and many of the sets against Valley were one-sided. But you won’t find players hanging their heads as the first-year program finds its way.
“These kids are fun,” Pahrump Valley coach David Yost said. “They’re beginners, so it’s fun right now for them. No pressure.”
Only two of the Trojans are seniors, Ashley Bishop and Kyler Strickland-Adams. Unfortunately, the latter is the only eligible male player Yost has.
“In NIAA rules you need six minimum to not have to forfeit,” Yost said. “So I have a legal team for the girls. But Kyler’s not The Flash; he can’t play all of the matches. Kyler’s fast, but not quite that fast.”
Strickland-Adams is the most athletic of the players, with experience in soccer, wrestling and football. “I think wrestling is my favorite, but tennis is now a close second,” he says.
Considering his level of experience, that shows a surprising love for what can be a frustrating game.
“Before this fall, the only tennis I had played was last year when it was a tennis club,” Strickland-Adams said. “Other than that, I hit the ball here and there but I haven’t had any legit training.
“I like to be a jack-of-all-trades in sports, and this year a lot of people were trying to get tennis into a (varsity) sport, and I was like, ‘Might as well, let’s try it.’ And we got lucky. Senior year, now it’s a sport.”
Yost wishes it wasn’t his senior year.
“Kyler gets competitive, which is good,” he said. “I like that. I like his drive, I wish I had him for at least another year. We’ve got to get some more guys out here next year to play.”
The athlete in Strickland-Adams expects to be successful despite his limited experience.
“I’ll admit I’ve gotten a little frustrated with some of my games,” he said. “But it’s fun. It’s our first year, we’re all happy to have it as a sport. It’s a learning experience for all of us.”
Strickland-Adams had a solid day against the Vikings, dropping a tough middle set 7-5 while beating his third opponent 6-0. He didn’t seem to find that achievement particularly noteworthy, not bothering to inform Yost of his result until he was quizzed about it.
Like Strickland-Adams, sophomore Veronica Dela Rosa, who has played more tennis than her teammates, also has high expectations, and she summed up her performance against Valley in one word.
“Horrible,” she said. “Horrible for my standards. I rushed myself today.”
Much like her take on that match, Dela Rosa is not overly satisfied with her season overall.
“They’re doing great,” she said of her teammates. “They’re learning and stuff, better than me.” Reminded by one of them that she’s by far the best of the female Trojans, she responded, “OK, they’re progressing better than I am, OK?”
Still, Dela Rosa is enjoying having a team around her.
“It’s fun if there are other people,” she said. “If it’s just you playing, it’s boring.”
The athlete in Strickland-Adams is just fine with a more boring pursuit.
“Unlike football, you don’t have someone who’s like 200 pounds heavier than you running at you,” he said. “It’s a nice, fun, fluid sport. It is a tough sport, but it’s easy to get the hang of.
“It’s a lot of strategy, endurance and coordination. The running back and forth, it builds your stamina and speed. Being naturally athletic, that part came easily for me, so with most of my opponents I try to outwork them.”
“He’s not (Novak) Djokovic,” Yost explained. “He’s not going to destroy you, he’s going to make you make the errors. And he does a pretty good job of it.”
Strickland-Adams was especially good Monday against Chaparral, winning all three of his sets by lopsided scores.
“Kyler was amazing,” Yost said of his 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 performance. “He was player of the day.”
As for the other Trojans, the basics are still being learned, but Yost said they still have a positive attitude.
“Teamwork, communication, they all work together,” he said. “It’s coming together slowly. Serving’s probably the biggest issue. That’s only part of the game. You still have to return a serve. If you get the ball over the net and make them make the errors, well, that’s what Kyler does.”
And with only Strickland-Adams and Bishop graduating, Yost hopes the team will grow next year in size and ability.
“Everybody else will be back as far as I can tell,” he said. “We’ve got a good squad to build with. Now that people are seeing the team, more people will want to come out.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@PVTimesSports
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