Story by Sonya Shimpock
Photo by Kaitlyn Lee
Girls tennis is preparing for another season amidst a dramatic reorganization of the program. After a successful run last season, the Tigers are hoping to continue their two season streak and return to CIF once again.
There has been an increased amount of student interest in the program, which has allowed for various new players to move up through the team in order to fill the nine required starting positions. The varsity and junior varsity teams are also almost completely new, and a new junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach have been brought into the program.
Senior captain Isha Zafra, sophomore captain Maya Oniciuc, and junior Claire Chen are the only varsity returners.
“We’re looking to maintain our position and still go to playoffs,” Head Coach Krista Gale said, commenting on the many changes the tennis team will be experiencing. “We have a lot of new pairings and doubles… so [we’re] trying to help our doubles teams kind of get to know one another’s relative strengths and weaknesses.”
The current high temperatures have forced the Tigers to work to become accustomed to the heat. The girls tennis season takes place in one of the hottest portions of the year, so the players train in the extreme weather in order to prepare themselves for the games. The conditioning is so that the Tigers aren’t over-exhausted by the temperatures when they play, Gale explained.
Though the playing conditions are not ideal, the team is excited to begin the new season.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to play with so many new teammates. I’m also really happy that we have a lot of home matches coming up, and I hope we’ll get some more support from the student body this season. But, overall, I think our varsity team this year is really strong and I’m super excited for the rest of our season!” Zafra said.
After attending CIF but getting knocked out in the second round last season, the Tigers are gearing up to make it farther into the tournament.
“Tennis is a big part of my life and… I am excited for the new tennis season, and I hope that as one of the captains, I will help inspire the team to have many good results. Our team goal is to make it to CIF again,” Oniciuc added.
Configurations are still being moved around, but the current varsity singles players include Oniciuc, playing singles 1, junior Gwendolyn Calbert playing singles 2, and sophomore Emi Fong playing singles 3. Chen and Zafra are playing doubles 1.
Currently in pre-season, the Tigers have been engaging in matches with other schools to train for the start of their official season.
Their next match against LaSalle will take place at 3:30 p.m. this Tuesday at the Orange Grove Courts.