By Melody Young
During this year’s five-week season, the girls’ varsity tennis team was undefeated. They entered the championship playoffs as the only undefeated team in the West Valley League’s Los Angeles City section. The girls’ hard work to overcome the changes to the team resulted in these wins, especially in the two close matches against rivals at Cleveland High School.
The team had to adjust to several major changes including the appointment of a new coach and the departure of last year’s players. This year, the team consists of ten returning players along with four new players. Since key team members from last year graduated, the scores have had only been marginally better this year compared to last year. However, the current members have proved that they have stepped up to the challenge.
“I feel that we have a very strong team this year from top to bottom. They’ve been getting stronger week by week. I think that we’re going to do well in the championship,” coach Archer Nishioka said.
Nishioka was appointed to lead the team after former coach Simon Robertshaw stepped down. Nishioka conducts practices in a structured format. The players start off with stretching warm-ups and then run through targeted drills that work on fine-tuning skills such as footwork and aim accuracy. After drills, they split off into teams and play practice matches, which allows the players to improve under the same pressures they experience during actual matches.
“All of us were kind of nervous about the changes, but they were good for us since they brought out a fierceness and competitiveness since we realize that last year’s seniors are gone. Even if we don’t win, I’ll still be very proud,” co-captain Anna Davenport said.