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Prep tennis: Determining factor

Hart’s Munoz gives Hart a dominate 1-2-3 punch in singles

Posted: October 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Only a freshman, Hart High tennis player Natalia Munoz has already made an impact on the Foothill League, going 23-1 to this point in the 2012 season.

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Hart High freshman Natalia Munoz has a problem with losing.

It’s a problem she’s had since she first started playing tennis when she was 7 years old.

She had such a problem with losing that, at times, it hampered her ability to even enjoy the sport that now takes up most, if not all, of her free time.

“It took me a little bit  (to like the sport) because I had to go to practices and I’d miss a lot of things. It took me a while to start to like (tennis),” she says. “I didn’t like losing.”

But she continued to work at getting better and better, until she first realized she could go far with the sport after winning the 10-and-under division of a tournament in Anaheim.

Since then, there isn’t much she’d rather be doing.

“It takes up a lot of my life,” she says. “After school, I do homework and play tennis. Before school I play tennis.”

Her dedication led to her having a repuation well before she even showed up at Hart.

There was talk of how good Munoz could be, and more importantly, how good the team could be with her addition.

“I had heard about her and I had no idea how really good she was,” says Hart head coach Chris Mansfield. “There was hype, but I didn’t know she was really that good, and she’s lived up to what any coach would want.”

The league season may only be a couple weeks old, but already, Munoz has proven the talk was deserved.

In her first meeting of the season with reigning Foothill League singles champion Rebecca Ho, Munoz handed the Golden Valley senior her first loss since 2010, 6-4.

“I knew she was really good,” Munoz says of Ho. “I’ve asked questions from Jackie and Proyfon and I was kind of nervous for that match. I just kind of went on the court and I wasn’t thinking about winning, I was thinking about doing well.”

In fact, Munoz has lost only one set all season and is undefeated in league play.

She has not only met the preseason hype, but surpassed it.

“She’s very tenacious, she likes to stay in the point and has a couple of very good weapons in the forehand and the backhand,” Mansfield says. “She stays in the point and is very smart about when to go for it and when not to. A lot of kids try to go for it all the time.”

Coupled with Resler and Lohaphaisan, the Indians have become a dominant force in singles play, already notching victories over both Valencia and West Ranch.

“We all have different playing styles,” says No. 1 singles player Jackie Resler. “Because we have different playing styles, I believe that we are 10-times stronger than last year with her on our team. It’s amazing.”

Munoz has developed into a solid singles player with the ability to play in any of the team’s three singles spots.

“I highly doubt that we will lose as a team, or a match. I highly doubt we will lose if we keep this up. And every day we’re getting better,” Resler says.

And Munoz is a big reason for that confidence, as she has turned a 1-2 punch of a singles side in 2011, into a stacked singles lineup in 2012.

“I don’t think it’s normal for them to adapt this quickly. I’ve had a few: Proyfon was one of them, Jackie and Anne Susdorf,” Mansfield says. “(Munoz) belongs in that group, definitely. She has the potential to set many records.”

There were definitely learning curves, though.

Munoz wasn’t familiar with the high school set up, and has had to question teammates on such things as pregame formalities to whom her next opponent is.

But to her, it’s all just part of the progression.

“It’s all really confusing,” she says. “I just sit down away from everybody else and they’ll look at me. I just laugh it off.”

It helped that she was able to quickly adapt to the team, which wasted no time taking her under its wing.

“It really made me happy that she is already part of the family,” Resler says.

For now, she may still be learning, but the future is where she, and her coach, are really focused.

If Munoz’s early season performance is a sign of things to come, she has the potential to etch her name into the Hart High record books.

“She belongs in that group definitely,” Mansfield says. “And she has the potential to set many records. Her serve will become much stronger over the years and she’ll be able to hit the angles, but right now she’s great. She’s incredible for her age.”

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