Of the Baker City Herald

Balance will be the key word for the 2001 version of the Baker High School boys and girls tennis teams.

The girls will be in search of their seventh straight District 4 crown. The boys will look to better their second-place finish from a year ago.

First-year coach Thom Van Artsdalen said the Bulldogs have no superstars, but have several top-flight players among the 50 youngsters on the squad. He said the squad breaks down to 33 girls and 17 boys. Of that group, only seven are seniors.

We have no standouts, but this is a strong group. Theyre very competitive, Van Artsdalen said.

Of the top seven boys players, five return from a year ago, one from two years ago, and the other from last years junior varsity squad.

In the boys singles, seniors Greg Guyer and Clay Shaw, and Jed Rembold are battling for the three varsity spots. Guyer and Rembold each reached the district quarterfinals last year. Shaw returns after sitting out last season.

All are strong players, Van Artsdalen said. They will push each other.

Bakers varsity doubles will be returnees Brady Romtvedt and Austin McKnight on one team, and sophomores Michael Van Artsdalen and Joel Cummings on the other.

Romvedt and McKnight won the district consolation title a year ago. Van Artsdalen also is a returning player, after advancing to the doubles quarterfinals at district last year. Cummings played JV last season.

Both Michael and Joel are good athletes, the Baker coach said. Joel is coming along, and Michael is a strong player. Both are very athletic and teachable. They could be the state champions their senior year.

The Baker girls squad also will rely on depth, and youthful experience.

Last years district singles champion, Christa Van Artsdalen, will team with Kelly Bogart and play doubles this year.

Christa had shoulder surgery in August, and had not been cleared to play until last month, her father said. By playing doubles, it will put less strain on her shoulder.

The Bulldogs other doubles team, Katie Bogart and Lanae Sorenson, finished second at district last season, losing the title match to former teammates Stefanie Turner and Kim Dugan. Sorenson and Bogart have advanced to the state meet two straight years.

Well have two real strong doubles teams, Van Artsdalen said. Theyll push each other all year long.

Handling the singles will be returning players Amy Hooper, Marie Graham, Lana Ho and Kari Staten, and newcomers Gloria Ho and Amanda Luelling.

We will be strong in our singles, Van Artsdalen said.

Lana Ho and Hooper each advanced to the district quarterfinals last year.

Van Artsdalen, who is employed as the Baker County Parole and Probation director, replaces Dave Johnson as Baker coach.

Van Artsdalen has played tennis for 30 years. He spent one season on a junior college team in California, and spent a lot of time coaching junior tennis in that state.

Van Artsdalen also is a member of the Tennis Association of Baker City, including spending some time on its board of directors.

He said the Baker program continues to thrive because of people like Ginger Rembold, who coaches the middle school tennis team, and helps conduct a summer tennis program.

Ginger spends so much time during the school year and with the summer program. Shes done a great job, he said.

Van Artsdalen said winning the district titles will be gravy for him. His goal is for the kids to learn the game and to have fun doing it.

I enjoy working with the kids, he said. This is a good group of kids, and are fun to be with. Im just trying to help them become better players.

Van Artsdalen will be assisted by Adrienne Bachman.

Bakers first match is Friday at Hermiston.