New year for NK means new faces at No.1

POULSBO — While teams around the state are honing their ground strokes and lob shots, on the North Kitsap hard top, head coach Terry Grimm is teaching this year’s Vikings a whole new technique. “She’s teaching us to dominate,” junior Jocelyn Gutierrez said as her practice doubles mate Lauren Curtis agreed.

POULSBO — While teams around the state are honing their ground strokes and lob shots, on the North Kitsap hard top, head coach Terry Grimm is teaching this year’s Vikings a whole new technique.

“She’s teaching us to dominate,” junior Jocelyn Gutierrez said as her practice doubles mate Lauren Curtis agreed.

It may be a long road to reach domination, though. The Vikings’ game is fairly crude as a host of high-end seniors — including both the No. 1 doubles and No. 1 single players from 2006 — moved on after graduation last year.

“This is kind of a growing year for us,” Grimm said. “The biggest challenge we face is discipline on their part … to get really good that’s what we need.”

Despite a 40-girl turnout, there’s just one senior — Brandy Meek — returning with experience in 2007, Grimm said. But a host of junior, sophomore and first year senior players, are swinging with determination and aiming for improvement.

Much like sophomore Krista Vestman, who is not only new to the NK court, but new to the game as well, Grimm said. Her focus has been making up for that inexperience as she fights for the No. 5 spot on the Viking ladder.

“She’s a real go-getter, very quick learner, she’s got that perfect attitude of determination and competitive drive,” Grimm said.

That’s the attitude all of the Vikings will need to have in order to take the step through growing pains toward success. Already the squad has taken a few lumps in its first two matches.

For its first meet of the season, NK traveled to face Bellarmine Prep March 15. The next day, the Vikings faced Mount Tahoma, also on the road.

In both matches, North came up short. The Vikes lost 5-0 to Bellarmine, and 4-1 to Mount T.

Tuesday, the Vikes had a chance to rebound as they hosted their first match of the season against Gig Harbor. Results were unavailable at press time.

“We need to work on staying together in doubles,” Grimm said. “We haven’t really established who’s partnering permanently … they need to pick a player and stick together for a while and they’ll definitely play better together. But they’re still experimenting.”

Meek and junior Megan Oostman make up the Vikings’ top doubles team, but beyond that, the other pairs have fluctuated at each match. Oostman and Stephanie Habner have been the No. 1 and No. 2 on the Vikes’ singles roster in the early going. Along with Vestman, sophomore Theresa Tucci and freshman Jordan Sprague are also making their claim for a spot on the varsity roster.

All of the Vikings will have a prime opportunity to prove their standing at 3:30 p.m. Thursday as the team travels to take on Central Kitsap. Next week, the Vikes will host Wilson Tuesday and travel to Stadium Thursday before Spring Break.

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