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Tennis girls raise a racquet

The Signal takes its annual look at the girls on the hardcourt in the Foothill League

Posted: September 9, 2008 2:52 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hart sophomore Anne Susdorf is one of the top singles tennis players in the Foothill League. Hart, which finished second, has a young team with six sophomores.

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It will probably be the same old story in girls tennis in 2008, with perennial Foothill League champions Valencia once again edging Hart for the title.

Valencia: (First, 10-0, lost in CIF finals to Chadwick). Head coach Annie Kellogg, 13th year
After six straight league crowns and three trips to the CIF-Southern Section finals, one might say that Valencia has established a tennis dynasty in this valley, and it appears as if it will continue.

And while the program experienced a huge loss from last season's squad, including Lehren MacKay, Courtney Kaska, Ninja Hwang and Chloe Kwock, all of whom were all-league doubles players and CIF individual qualifiers.

However, Kellogg can count on seniors Isabella Fraczek as her one-two singles punch. "These girls are terrific," the skipper said. "The work hard on the court and are great examples off of it."

Top singles newcomers feature 10th graders Amanda Janssan, Ashley Karzin and Andrea Zammitt, while Clarice and Emily Fraczek - who were all-league doubles players in 2007 -are returning. The Fraczeks will make up for the tremendous loss of the graduated seniors.

"I know we're pretty young, but these girls are already talking about getting back to the CIF finals," Kellogg said. "These young kids are really hungry, and you have to like that kind of attitude."

Hart: (Second, 8-2, made CIF but lost in first round), head coach Chris Mansfield, second year
The phrase "Always a bridesmaid and never a bride" has never been more appropriate when it comes to Hart's efforts to win an elusive league championship.

"Valencia is very tough and has a lot of good returning players," said Indians second-year skipper Chris Mansfield (second year leading the girls after a 26-year stint as a boys coach).

"We, on the other hand, have a very young club - six sophomores, two seniors and a junior," he added.

The team will have big shoes to fill after losing last year's top girl, Kelly Crescenci, but look for sophomore phenom Anne Susdorf to help ease the pain.

Supporting Susdorf will be several top singles players, including junior Hima Boinpally and Shelley Sachceva, while senior Emily Van Houghten and sophomore Ingrid Jelderks are the club's main doubles tandem.

"I think we are still a year away from a (league) title," Mansfield said. "We will be competitive, and our younger kids will have a lot of passion, but I think we will really do well in 2009.

West Ranch: (Third, 6-4, lost in CIF first round), head coach Eric Speiker, first year
Despite the newness of the program, the Wildcats became the first girls tennis squad to earn a berth in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

This year, rookie coach Eric Speiker will rely on sophomore Ana Lucia Fuentes to help the team move even further up the league ladder.

"It is Ana Lucia's first year on team," Speicker said. "She is ranked in USTA (United States Tennis Association) in Southern California and nationally."

Fuentes is also a member of a several elite junior teams in California.

The number two singles player will be senior Gavelyn Poonnopatam, who as the only senior on the team will provide much needed leadership to the young club.

In the third position will be Poonnopatam's sister, Lena, a freshman.

"She played in a Southern Californian League this summer and is a member of a Jr. Team that will travel to compete nationally in Alabama this fall," Speicker said of his 9th grade athlete.

Saugus: (Fourth, 4-6, did not make CIF playoffs), head coach Allan Hardbarger
Looking to move up into the postseason this year, the Centurions will rely heavily on a healthy mix of senior leadership (Emily Wilson and Dea Araujo) and freshman enthusiasm (Pilar Araujo and Megan Soucy) in the singles division.

"Pilar has a lot of firepower for a young kid," Hardbarger said. "She also has a powerful forehand and backhand, and is very mature for her age."

In the doubles category, look for veterans seniors Rachel Marucut and Mariah Aguinado to help Saugus make a run at the postseason.

"I'm looking for these girls to play some really smart doubles," Hardbarger added. "We need to be more aggressive in this aspect of our game. I think we were to passive last year, but I like the direction we're going."

Canyon (Fifth, record unknown, did not make CIF playoffs), head coach Debbie Glasnow, first year

(Editor's Note: After several attempts to contact the Canyon caoch, we were unable to communicate as of press time.)

Golden Valley (Sixth, 0-10, did not make CIF playoffs), head coach Holly Ingersol, first year

With fewer players on its roster than any other Foothill League club, the Golden Valley girls will be hard-pressed to win a conference crown, but skipper Holly Ingersol does envision some improvement.

"We did not have enough girls on the team, so we had to call up a lot of JV players," Ingersol explained.

"They bring a lot of passion and enthusiasm, though, so this should be an interesting year."

The squad has nowhere to go but up, so any advancement will be appreciated by the rookie coach.

Top singles prospects include freshman Rachel Ho, who has some USTA tournament experience, and junior Kristine Tan.

There is no clear cut athletes rising to take over the doubles field, however.

"This is definitely an area we are still working on," admitted the coach.


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