Preparation for coach David Christensen's first Blair High School tennis season is well underway.
He's assisted by Kersten Peters, but will also have a 12-member senior class to lean on as the Bears get ready for a schedule set to begin next week.
“I feel like I've got to give it everything because I'm not going to have another chance,” Alexandra Nilges said Tuesday at Stemmermann Park.
Twelfth-graders Jenna Murch-Shafer, Mallory Dreher and she return for one more go-around after competing and winning matches at last year's NSAA Class B State Championships in Lincoln.
Nilges was 1-1 at No. 2 singles, while Murch-Shafer and Dreher teamed up to go 1-1 in No. 2 doubles at the Woods Tennis Center.
Their class of 2023 helped fill out four courts Tuesday during practice. A solid turnout from BHS seniors to freshmen have welcomed Christensen into his role as tennis coach.
“He's doing really good,” Dreher said. Both she and Nilges noted the coach's efforts to build up his Bears' skills on the court as well as those put in to encourage chemistry and camaraderie.
“He's really helping our team,” Dreher added.
On the court, both seniors said serving has been a strength during preseason workouts.
“The speed I've gotten on it,” Dreher said when asked more detail. “Starting freshman year, it was not very fast. Not accurate.”
As a senior, though, that's changed.
“Now, I've gotten it to go in quite a bit and it's got some speed to it,” she said.
Nilges noted her own serving consistency, but also an improved ability to let bad swings go.
“Not getting hard on myself,” she said when asked for a strength.
The Bears are tentatively scheduled to begin matches March 23 against Omaha Gross. Scheduling conflicts had put the dual into doubt as of Tuesday night, but BHS' second official date is confirmed for March 28 against South Sioux City. It is a home dual for both Christensen's varsity and junior varsity lineups.