Girls’ tennis preview: Same team, new enthusiasm
September 5, 2013
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Unlike many of the other fall sports, girls’ tennis has always been an individual sport. However, this year the new Paly varsity girls’ tennis players look to play effectively together, rostering a number of critical veteran and new players.
“We do have some new players, but we are still really close and we have fun together,” team co-captain Hollie Kool (‘14) said.
Though the newly joint team has just embarked on their 2013-2014 season, they “have already bonded,” according to co-captain Felicia Wang (’14).
The team welcomed four new players this season: Halle Biorn (’16), Lucy Fox (’15), Elena Chavez (’14) and Avanika Narayan (‘17).
“Our new players really bring an eagerness to the team,” assistant coach Mark Smith said. “They’re keeping the incumbents on their toes.”
According to the Tennis Recruiting Network, Narayan (‘17) is ranked 76th in California and will join ranked teammate Aashli Budhiraja (’14), No. 40 in California.
“[Budhiraja] was the best player in our league last year, and she got all the way to the semi-finals in the sectionals… She’s a very serious tennis player,” head coach Andy Harader said.
The coaches have confidence in the entirety of their team this year.
“Overall, when you look at [the players], they are a very capable bunch,” assistant coach Mark Smith said.
The coaches claim to have a plan for later in the season: A ranking system that determines which athletes play against each other in matches.
“Aashli and Avanika are our only ranked players on the team, so they will obviously play number one and two singles,” Harader said.
However, the coaches do not have their eyes only on singles matches.
“The people who are the strongest in singles will vector into number one doubles.” assistant coach Mark Smith said. “[We watch] how they hit, their power level and their consistency level. It’s essentially the same old varsity in terms of who is going to be playing the serious matches.”
During practices, the team has been improving their focus, strength and fitness coming out of the offseason, according to Kool.
“We are working out a lot more, so hopefully we will be faster on the court,” Kool said. “We’ve been working on our focus as well, because we generally need to be more focused in our match play.”
Kool also attests that the team is excited about playing some of their more formidable opponents, as they were third in their league last year.
“We are looking forward to playing Lynbrook, Saratoga, and Monta Vista.” Kool (’14) said. “They’re always the teams to beat.”
The team will compete in the two day Santa Catalina Invitational Tournament in Monterey this weekend, September 7th and 8th. The all-girls tournament includes players from 17 California schools.
“We’re usually right up there with the top point leaders in Santa Catalina,” Harader said. “Aashli is not going, so that diminishes our lineup by one, but we are always in the top three teams and I expect us to be there again.”