GIRLS TENNIS: State champion team strives for undefeated season

Senior+Ruri+Kobayakawa%2C+then+a+junior%2C+returns+the+ball+during+a+game+last+season.+Due+to+the+great+performance+of+the+girls%27+tennis+team+last+season%2C+expectations+are+high+as+the+girls+enter+yet+another+season.+Photo+from+El+Estoque+archives.

Senior Ruri Kobayakawa, then a junior, returns the ball during a game last season. Due to the great performance of the girls' tennis team last season, expectations are high as the girls enter yet another season. Photo from El Estoque archives.

Ashley Ding

Senior Ruri Kobayakawa, then a junior, returns the ball during a game last season. Due to the great performance of the girls’ tennis team last season, expectations are high as the girls enter yet another season. Photo from El Estoque archives.

Last year, varsity girls tennis made headlines, finishing the season without a single loss. The team pulled out a close win over former NorCal Champions, Saratoga High School, to take the position as the top team in the state. And this year, Coach Gene Fortino says, the team is headed in the same direction.

“This year, we have a really, really strong team,” Fortino said. “The top nine players of our team returned from last year, and we got some transfers from other schools … the experience is a huge thing.”

And while the thrill of victory remains with the returning players, the team is more motivated than ever to continue their success. Though the school year has only just started, the team is well on its way to getting back into last year’s rhythm, Fortino said. Tryouts have been completed and the sixteen team members are now playing challenges, matches used to determine the ranking of the players within the team.

By the end of next week, the team will have decided its players for singles, doubles and backups; these rankings will be used for every competition until the end of the season. One thing the team plans on changing this year, however, is the amount of team bonding.

“We’re having more practices and having more events like sleepovers so everyone can become closer to each other,” co-captain senior Jody Law said. “This way, people will become more focused on acting as a unit instead of caring only about their individual games.”

And though the team has high expectations this year, Fortino admits that winning NorCal two years in a row is difficult.

“Obviously we’ll strive to do that, but there are a lot of really good teams out there, so you never know,” Fortino said. “… I mean, we’d love to repeat as CCS and NorCal champions but it’s just extra frosting on the cake.”

The 2012 tennis team includes freshman Anna Kang, sophomores Katherine Guo, Angella Qian, Aiswarya Sankar, Nicole Stomakhin, juniors Shwetha Bharadwaj, Kelsey Chong, Claudia Kesala, Jenna McGuirk, Sabrina Mui, and seniors Fangfei Li, Tiffany Lian, and Tiffany Wang. The team captains are seniors Ruri Kobayakawa, Wendi Kong, and Jody Law.