Wally Heidenson has come home.
The West Valley High School graduate and former tennis coach at Community Colleges of Spokane was an 11th hour hire for the boys coaching position at WV.
“I kind of wanted to get back into coaching but college was too tough timewise,” said the teaching pro at Spokane Racquet Club, who coached CCS from 1977 through 1990. “WV opened and I was hired a week before the season started.”
One pleased with the hire is WV girls coach Julie Scott.
“I’ve known Wally for years,” she said. “We’re fortunate to have him.”
The Eagle teams will be the least experienced of the Valley schools.
East Valley’s girls, who shared second in league last year, and the Knight boys, who tied WV for third, are experienced enough to chase perennial powers Pullman and Clarkston in the Frontier League this year.
EV coaches optimistic
East Valley’s boys return 10 varsity players and the girls bring back seven letter winners.
“Seven of our 10 are seniors which really makes the boys team quite strong,” said coach Don Krueger.
Girls coach Aaron Altender said of his team, “I think we’re pretty decent. We’re definitely going to be in the chase, certainly in the top three.”
Back for the boys is Joel Scruggs, EV’s No. 1 player for three years. Two other singles players, Scott Tate and Scott Granly are also four-year players. Bin Nugyen is the other returning singles player.
On doubles are seniors Quang Phan, Darreyl Langford and Larry Le, juniors Andy Anderson, Richard Schmitt, sophomore Jake Walkers and freshman Dennis Winters.
“I think we’ll be in the upper half of the league standings,” said Krueger. “This is the first year we’ve had seven seniors which shows me they love tennis and are dedicated to the team.”
All-league No. 1 singles player Nancy Hundrup leads the EV girls. She’s joined by senior Barb Norquist, junior Jody Baker and newcomer sophomore Jenny Frank.
Doubles players are the returning No. 1 team of Joette Tomblin and Solveig Ekenes and the No. 3 team of juniors Brandy Rowles and Tanya Phillips. New No. 2 team is juniors Val White and Jenny Howald.
“Across the board we are more experienced and the depth seems to help,” said Alteneder. “During the three years we were so good, anytime a match was close we almost always won on the lower end and picked up a match on top.”
WV programs building
As the new Eagle boys coach, Heidenson is finding that high school is different from college, where he recruited his players for positions.
“The skill level and knowledge is lower but they are more open to doing things,” he said.
Singles players are juniors Bryan Foss, Seth Mork, Duane Lutz and senior Peter Martinez.
Doubles teams include seniors Jason Sullivan and Avery Genge, junior David Thompson and freshman Ron Dickey and seniors James McGold and Jeremy Thornton.
“I want to get them excited, having fun and doing well enough to want to play in the off-season,” said Heidenson. “If we can get them working on fundamentals, next year is where you’ll see a big result.”
Scott’s girls lost virtually every Frontier match last year 4-3.
“We’d win three singles almost consistently then lose the doubles,” she said. “We didn’t have the success we should have had with four seniors.”
This year, with one senior, a junior, six sophomores and a pair of freshmen the Eagles opened the season by losing to Clarkston - 4-3.
“We won three singles again even with the youth,” said Scott.
Senior Patty Kelly is No. 1 singles player, joined by Sara Mork, junior Suzanne Bawden and Rani Johnson.
Doubles teams include Ashley Brumback and Michaela Ott, Lisa Chasse and Amber Mitchell, freshmen Chimene Eisfelder and Molly Ormsby.
Many of them, for the first time in Scott’s three years, played year around.
“They really made an effort to improve,” said Scott. “Three singles players worked all summer and winter. And the freshmen are all athletes, moreso than in the past.”