March 13, 2002 11:00 pm

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande High School tennis coach Mike Schireman is looking forward to another spring with his tennis players.

Theyre coachable, they enjoy the game, they want to be there, so those are all positives, Schireman said.

The Tigers opened their season Tuesday with six singles and doubles wins over Fruitland, Idaho, and they continue their preseason today with competition in Pendleton.

With 17 boys and 17 girls, Schireman and JV coach Larry Morrison have their hands full. Most of the athletes are underclassmen, which gets Schireman already excited about next year, too.

For the boys, if they improve as much as they did last year, they should do pretty well this year, Schireman said. The girls are a little more undecided. The reason for that is we had six seniors graduate last year, so weve got a ton of sophomores and juniors.


La Grande does return all three of its state tournament entrants. No. 1 boys singles player Levi Morrison, a junior, and the No. 1 boys doubles team of Greg Schuft and Tyler Lester, both seniors, will repeat those roles this year.

Schuft and Lester will continue to play smart, Schireman said. They finished second last year, (and) I wouldnt expect anything lower than that this year. They ought to be right up there again.

Junior John Woodfield has moved from doubles to the No. 2 singles spot, and senior Tim Mollerstrom or junior Aaron Nebeker will compete in the No. 3 singles position.

Behind Schuft and Lester in doubles are juniors Matt Nightingale and Seth Pennington and juniors Dan Jones and Ian Gregory.

Beyond that are a lot of JV players. Most of the freshmen I have will all be playing JV at various spots, Schireman said. I like to get those kids experience at a variety of spots.

Junior varsity boys include Keaton Orton, Mkara Im, Brendan Marshall, Jordan Morrison, Trae Perry and Dan Thurber.


For now, junior Haley Hines is the top singles player with senior Beth Youngblood close behind. They could possibly trade back and forth, Schireman said.

The No. 3 singles position is up for grabs, with junior Courtney Hitchon and sophomore Megan Sherer in competition for it. A doubles team may also be split to provide that singles player, Schireman said.

The No. 1 doubles team is junior Hillary Girrard and sophomore Stephanie Keith. The second doubles team is Caitlin Schoenfelder and Bethany Herman. Seniors Shalece Hibbert and Karli Nebeker are also in the mix for the top three doubles positions.

Other players who will play JV this year include Megan Schoenfelder, Kacey Lyman, Caitlin Weaver, Jen Hubbard, Teresa Kiemnec, Tricia Nebeker, Nikki Nielson and Meah Perry.

While the boys may contend for a district title, the girls will have to contend with strong teams in Baker and Ontario.

Were lacking a little bit experience-wise, but Ive been real impressed with what Ive seen so far, Schireman said.