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Broken Hart

Tennis team tries to move on after tragedy

Posted: October 15, 2008 9:45 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Former Hart tennis player Kari Hsieh, right, is shown here with doubles partner Stacy Wuang, left, and Emily Van Houdt. The Indians are moving on more than a month after Hsieh died in the Metrolink crash in Chatsworth.

When the Hart girls tennis team was on the 118 Freeway heading east, after a match on Sept. 12 at Westlake High School, they saw the aftermath of a train wreck.

At the time, the Indians did not know what was going on. That is, until they arrived home that Friday.

It was there they found out their former teammate and friend, Kari Hsieh, was among 25 who died in Chatsworth on a Metrolink train that collided with a Union Pacific freight train earlier that afternoon. It was the deadliest railway accident in Metrolink's history.

The senior celebrated her 18th birthday on July 26.

What began with total shock and sadness has turned into a healing process within the past month.

"It definitely hit our team harder," said Emily Van Houdt, a senior on the No. 1 doubles team. "If she had been on the team, she wouldn't have been on that train. It weighed on our consciences."

Hsieh, whose full name is Chen-Wyuan Kari Hsieh, was on her way to her family's restaurant in Simi Valley. She did not play tennis her senior season, because she wanted to help out her family and concentrate on her grades.

"It was very hard that first week," Hart head coach Chris Mansfield said. "They were very much in shock, which is understandable. They're coming out of it now."

While coping with the loss of their former No. 2 doubles player, Stacy Wuang and Van Houdt were among those who put together a poster with several photos of Hsieh on it. Van Houdt also came up with the idea of wearing red ribbons this season in honor of her.

Wuang, who along with Jessica Martinez forms Hart's No. 2 doubles team, was one of her best friends.

Hsieh was on the train because she did not want to bother her father to drive her to Simi Valley.

"She always thought of other people," Van Houdt said. "She was always happiest when other people around her were happy."

On Sept. 15, friends placed roses on her desk in one of her classrooms. Mansfield also taught her in one of his classes.

The funeral was on Sept. 20, the memorial was Sept. 26 at Bouquet Canyon Church with members of her family and faculty from Hart.

"We had a service where people talked about her," Wuang said.

The school and the community combined to raise approximately $7,700 to assist her family.

In a match against Hart soon after the crash, Saugus also wore ribbons to honor Hsieh.

"She was a focused girl," Mansfield said. "She had a very positive attitude and had a very nice smile. She was very dedicated."

Hart, which finished second in the Foothill League last season, is 4-2 and tied for second with West Ranch this season.

The top three make it to the CIF-SS Playoffs, and Hart and West Ranch are in a fight for second and third place behind Valencia.

While Hsieh's death has hurt, strong play has continued this season.

"That helped make us a stronger team," Wuang said. "We're here to honor a lost member. We wanted to keep that bond going on."

Last season, Hsieh went 7-2 in Foothill League matches, alongside partner Maddi Eagles, who graduated this spring.

Two seasons ago, she finished first in the league as a junior varsity player.


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