KINGSBURG - Before the Kingsburg girls tennis team gets into Central Sequoia League play this week, the Vikings improved its record to 2-0 after defeating Tulare Union 5-4 on Wednesday Aug. 28.
“We’re working hard trying to get our reps in,” Kingsburg coach Luke Gramza said. “Preseason is always about staying injury-free, getting our practice in and moving forward with our game plan.”
After taking a 4-2 advantage in singles, the Vikings clinched the victory in doubles with an 8-4 win in the No. 2 doubles match. Zoey Van Buerden and Ekpreet Virk were the Vikings victorious in that match.
“We play really well together,” Virk said about the doubles win. “We weren’t playing our absolute best, but we played really well.”
In singles, Van Buerden - Kingsburg’s No. 2 - fell 8-1 while Virk - the No. 4 - won 8-2.
“I feel like I didn’t play my best, but I think I played well enough and solid enough to get the win,” Virk said.
“I lost, but I was actually happy with how I did,” Van Buerden said. “She’s really athletic and got to every ball.”
Other notable performances included No. 1 Margaud Gales, who won her match against Maddie Rodriguez in a 8-1 final.
Gramza said the addition of Gales, a foreign exchange student from France, makes the lineup deeper with her as the No. 1 player.
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“She slots in at No. 1 and everyone moves down. She’s been a great addition to the team,” Gramza said. “More so how she is as a player, she’s a good person, has a great attitude out on the court and always want to have fun playing tennis and get better. That’s what we really value more so than wins or losses.”
This season, the Vikings return three players - Van Buerden, Virk, Hannah Hjelm - from last year’s team that competed in the Central Section Division IV championship match against Firebaugh. With the additions of Gales and freshmen Katie Tikkmen and Megan Stahl, Gramza expects the team to improve as the season progresses.
“We got some new players coming in this year and I just want to see what we need to work on tactically,” Gramza said. “I’m not setting high expectations or anything, obviously, we want to do the best we can, but I’m not so much working on that we have hit X, Y, and Z goals, I just want to see where we’re at and see what we could do to improve for this year and the upcoming years.”
Tikkmen and Stahl were the team's No. 5 and No. 6 players against the Tribe.
For Van Buerden and Virk, their expectations this season is for them and their teammates to leave it all on the court, win or lose.
“We’re going to work hard and deal with the heat,” Van Buerden said.
“As long as we work hard, I don’t care if we win or lose, as long as I know we’re playing our best,” Virk said.
Kingsburg last played on the road against Lemoore in a non-league match on Tuesday (after press time).
The Vikings will begin Central Sequoia League play at home against Immanuel on Thursday. After, Kingsburg will play Hanford West on the road on Sept. 10.