Clovis News: Sports

Clovis North boys tennis aims for second Valley title

Senior Daly Meinert is the No.1 player on a strong Clovis North High School boys tennis team.
Senior Daly Meinert is the No.1 player on a strong Clovis North High School boys tennis team.

Brad Fernandez, coach of the Clovis North High School boys tennis team, watched his players volley in practice on a recent hot afternoon. Amid the flurry of fluorescent yellow balls, Fernandez considered the prize within his team’s reach.

The Broncos are the defending team champion in Division I of the Central Section, and they were seeded No. 1 going into this year’s playoffs.

“We’re looking for a repeat. It’s been an awesome ride with these guys,” Fernandez said.

Clovis North is scheduled to begin playoff action on May 9.

The Broncos charged through the Tri-River Athletic Conference this spring and emerged 10—0, with a 16-2 overall record. It’s the second year in a row they have netted a perfect TRAC record.

Leading the team is senior Daly Meinert, who plays No. 1 singles. He could become a three-time singles champion when the section’s individual competition begins later this month. Meinert — who won the singles crown as a freshman and a sophomore — will play college tennis at Cal Poly.

The other top six players for the Broncos are, in order: Michael Fourchy, Billy Schulz, Derek Yao, Sahib Bhatia and Ethan Cardot. All are underclassmen except for Bhatia, who’s a senior.

Fourchy and Schulz distinguished themselves this season by going undefeated in singles and doubles in the TRAC.

Clovis North’s younger players have shown admirable mental toughness, Fernandez said.

“With a crop of young guys, that is a question mark sometimes. But we got better mentally from match to match, and I think that’s what sets us apart from some other teams,” he said.

The toughness has helped the players handle being defending champions.

“To be honest, I don’t think there is real pressure for us,” Fernandez said. “Before we started the season, we knew we were going to be hunted, so to speak. If we play like we have the whole season, I think we should be fine.”

Here is a look at three players for Clovis North:

Daly Meinert, senior

When did you start playing tennis? Age 12. His mother, Allison, played tennis for UCLA. “She had me get out there when I was young, and I’m really happy she did that.” Former Fresnan Brad Stine, who coached tennis pro Jim Courier, has worked with Meinert.

Highlight of the season: “Definitely winning the TRAC championship for the team.”

Favorite pro tennis player: Roger Federer. “It’s not just because he’s the best. He’s a magical player on the court, but off the court, he’s such a role model. He’s such a good speaker and speaks so many languages. He just makes everyone around him a happy person. He’s definitely an inspiration.”

Billy Schulz, sophomore

When did you start playing tennis? Age 5. His parents are both tennis players. “Tennis requires a lot of skill, not just physical brawn. So practice and putting time in on the court can really get you places.”

Highlight of the season: Winning the TRAC doubles championship with Michael Fourchy.

Favorite pro tennis player: Novak Djokovic. “He’s my style. I like his backhand a lot. He gets it in consistently and places it really well. He’s just really good.”

Sahib Bhatia, senior

When did you start playing tennis? Age 7. “It kind of transformed my view of the world. I have my academics every day in school, and then I have tennis. When I’m in a match, I focus only on the match. I’ve never been able to focus on anything like I do in a tennis match.”

Highlight of the season: Beating Palm Desert High School, the team that knocked Clovis North out of the state playoffs a year ago.

Favorite pro tennis player: Rafael Nadal. “The way he plays is just fascinating — how he puts power on the ball and has a lot of control over his feet.”

Roster

Sahib Bhatia, senior

Ethan Cardot, sophomore

Michael Fourchy, freshman

Kyle Groves, senior

Daly Meinert, senior

Nick Rouillard, sophomore

Billy Schulz, sophomore

Ashwin Sidhu, senior

Robbie Tacescu, junior

Hayden Williams, sophomore

Derek Yao, sophomore

Benjamin Yang, freshman

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