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Canyon's Katrina DeGuzman: Quick to conquer

Canyon sophomore is already challenging league’s best

Posted: October 8, 2013 10:28 p.m.
Updated: October 8, 2013 10:28 p.m.

Canyon sophomore Katrina DeGuzman made herself known in the Foothill League last year when she finished surprisingly well in the annual Fall Brawl.

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It’s not often an athlete truly comes out of nowhere to the surprise of rival players and coaches around the valley.

But that’s exactly what happened with Canyon High sophomore Katrina DeGuzman.

One by one, rival Foothill League coaches explained their surprise after the 2012 Fall Brawl, where DeGuzman won the consolation bracket of the annual Santa Clarita Valley-wide tournament.

And a year later, they’re still raving about the talented Canyon athlete.

“She’s just a tennis princess, a beautiful game,” says Valencia High head coach Annie Kellogg. “Tons of courage out there and goes for her shots.”

“I think it was (her coming out party),” says West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker of the 2012 Fall Brawl. “Her aggressiveness, her ball striking. You heard the ball coming off her racket and you said ‘Who is that hitting the ball so steadily — so hard?’”

For a team like Canyon, which has struggled in recent years, having a player like DeGuzman has rejuvenated the program.

“Her game is continuing to improve and bring more attention to our team and is also inspiring the rest of the team to work harder to see what they can achieve when they put in the time and the extra effort,” says Canyon head coach Dennis Yong. “I can see her being one of the best players in the league, and perhaps even going pretty far in the CIF tournament in the next three years.”

DeGuzman may be new to her Foothill League opponents, but she’s certainly not new to tennis.

She’s been playing tennis since she was 4 years old.

She was introduced to the game as a matter of convenience — her father brought her along when he tried to teach her older brother the game.

“I actually was surprised in a way,” says her father, Ben DeGuzman. “I was and I wasn’t. She was just tagging along, I was trying to get her older brother to learn the sport and she was just so tiny. And the net, she was tinier than the net.”

But Katrina quickly fell in love and never looked back, learning alongside her brother. And as they got older, she routinely played against him.

“Me obviously,” says the quietly confident DeGuzman on who generally wins when the siblings take the court. “I started playing against him when I was about 11, maybe, and that’s when I started beating him.”

Not all of her opponents are surprised by her success, though.

Hart No. 1 singles player Natalia Munoz, for example, grew up playing with DeGuzman, and is happy to see the rest of the league finally taking notice.

“It’s really nice, actually,” Munoz says. “It’s good. She’s on a team where everyone can appreciate her skill. She’s always worked as hard as me and it’s nice she can go out and show people she’s really good. It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve always known she’s a really good player. It’s just new to other people.”

After bursting onto the scene at 2012’s Fall Brawl, DeGuzman again made her presence known at this year’s edition.

But even she was surprised to show up and discover she had been placed as the tournament’s No. 3 seed — a move that meant she had earned the respect of her rivals.

Yong sees a simple reason for the respect.

“Her style of play is aggressive. She takes the ball on the rise and she dictates the point,” Yong says. “She hits the ball hard and deep. Consistent first serve. That’s her style.”

At the tournament, she advanced to the semifinals, where she ran into her friend Munoz.
After a tight match, Munoz came out on top, winning 8-7 (7-4) to send DeGuzman to the third-place match against Proyfon Lohaphaisan. Exhausted, DeGuzman fell in that match, 8-6.

“I remember last year I played Natalia and I lost 3-6 or 4-6. I played her (this year) and I lost in the tiebreak. It was really frustrating. I was about to cry, but I didn’t — it’s OK,” DeGuzman says.

She’ll get another chance today when Canyon faces Hart for the first time during Foothill League play.

If her trajectory continues, DeGuzman likely won’t have to hold back tears many more times.

She may have been an unknown not too long ago — but DeGuzman is well known now, and she’s here to stay.

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