Ace may be gone but serves still there

Natalie Wong

Team loses top player to College Now program at De Anza yet continues to dominate the court

If there were a star tennis player like Maria Sharapova at our school, girls varsity tennis would definitely want her on the team.

But if she is enrolled in College Now, a program available to students in the district, rules dictate the tennis star wouldn’t be able to play.

The girls varsity tennis team has been very successful throughout the past years, winning four CCS titles and Norcal over the span of four years. This year, however they’ve lost their number one player, senior Sophie Chang, to a program at De Anza College called College Now.

Unlike Middle College, where students take high school classes with FUHSD teachers who work at De Anza, College Now only allows students to take De Anza classes.  Both Middle College and College Now students are still MVHS students. Middle College students are also allowed to play high school sports. 

Chang was originally planning to play on the team, and did not know that taking College Now would prevent her from doing so. She was originally told that as long as she got signed permission to play from an MVHS official, she could play. In the end, it was up to CCS to decide if it was okay, and they ruled against it. 

Not only did this decision affect Chang, but every high school athlete enrolled in College Now. If Chang continued to play on the team, the team would be forced to forfeit all of their matches.

“It really hurts to lose your best player,” girls varsity tennis coach Gene Fortino said. “She is one of the top players in the nation. It’s tough to lose someone of that caliber. Not only that, but we lost a leader. She is a good player, a good teammate, and a good person.”

In previous years, several volleyball players were allowed to play, but the rules have become stricter this year. And not many athletes are happy about it. Throughout the district, athletes have filed multiple appeals that are still in the process.

 “[The other athletes] don’t agree with the decision and can’t accept it,” Chang said. “I don’t agree with it, but I’ve accepted the decision.”

Chang is currently training individually and practicing to join NCAA Division I college tennis. According to NCAA Division I regulations, she can’t play for any community college team before entering a four-year university without losing a year of eligibility. Now, she can’t play high school tennis either.

The members of the girls varsity tennis team also feel the stress of losing a good player.

“Sophie [Chang] was an automatic win and an anchor of the team,” junior Tara Nguyen said.  “[Now that Chang is gone] everyone is bumped up a spot, but we’re still a strong team.”

Nguyen feels that Chang should be allowed to play on the team and that being a student at De Anza shouldn’t prevent her because she is still an MVHS student.

“I’m disappointed, but we have to move on,” Fortino said. “We can’t linger. We feel strong and have strong players. This year we’re down a little, but we’re still one of the strongest teams in Norcal.”

The team is very close and passionate about what they do. They go out to lunch together and share hotel rooms at tournaments that aren’t local. During tournaments and matches they eat, run, and stretch together. They cheer their teammates on the entire time and have strong support. They are ready to prove that they can still win.

“We’re more determined to win [this season],” Nguyen said. “Everyone thinks that we’re weaker, but we’re still number one and we can do it with or without her. ”