Girls’ tennis team regains momentum after loss of key players from last season

September 29, 2023 — by Florence Hu and Nicole Lee
Courtesy of Nancy Lei
No.1 doubles player Nancy Lei watches closely for her opponent’s serve at the Sept. 19 game against Lynbrook.
Last year’s three best singles players left to train individually for competitive tennis.

The girls’ tennis team is looking to regain their momentum after the loss of two graduating seniors and their top three players last season: senior Sabrina Manea, junior Megha Horantur and sophomore Viki Toram, who were last year’s No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 singles players, respectively. 

All three players left to train competitively for tournaments hosted by the United States Tennis Association (USTA); Manea has been training individually in Spain.

This year, three new players — freshman Melinda Su, sophomore Vivian Lei and sophomore Sasha Prasad — have joined the varsity team, and many returning players have improved their skills since last season during summer training camps. 

Guided by longtime coach Florin Marcia, the Falcons have consistently practiced hard to train their incoming freshmen and overcome the team’s past limits. Their work has mostly paid off so far — they lost only against Lynbrook 7-0 on Sept. 19, winning against Wilcox 6-1 on Sept. 26, Santa Clara 7-0 on Sept. 14 and Fremont High School 5-2 on Sept. 12.

Last season, the team won all but two of their matches, both of which were against Lynbrook.

This season, junior Natalie Poon, the team’s co-captain and No. 3 singles player, hopes to improve on the team’s latest finish of third place in the El Camino League.

“We were a little bit worried because we lost our top three players from last year,” Poon said. “But I think if we work hard and maintain a good mindset, we will do great.”

With 2-hour practices four days a week from Monday through Thursday, players are consistently improving their skills. Their regular training has helped players hone in more consistent technique and strengthen their former weaknesses. 

Since most players had moved up a few ranks, Poon and senior Nancy Lei, the team’s captain and No. 1 doubles player, acknowledged the increased nerves surrounding each of the matches. 

Though she has seen  some teammates tense up on occasion, Lei said she likes seeing that others are more relaxed on the court. Even with tennis being a very individual sport, she believes that a lot of the mindset comes from playing with their team. 

“Overall, we have a positive outlook. We started off strong and I don’t want us to be set back even if we lose any following games” Lei said. “We should focus on the team aspect of winning, not just the individual wins.”

Over the games played so far, the players have not only improved their skills but also strengthened their bonds, cheering for each other up to the last point.“Everyone on the team gets along well with each other,” sophomore Katelynn Vasquez, No. 3 doubles player, said,” sophomore Katelynn Vasquez, No. 3 doubles player, said. “Today at our game, [sophomore] Riya Rama was the last person to finish her match and everyone was watching her play and cheering her on.”

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