Star freshmen add depth to varsity tennis team

October 9, 2014 — by Caitlin Ju

Freshmen Dasee Carter and Stephanie Ren bring experience to the tennis team.

With the end of school comes the beginning of a whole other routine for freshman Dasee Carter. As soon as the school bell rings, she rushes to the locker room and prepares for her two-hour varsity tennis practice. By the end of the two hours, sweat glistening off her forehead, she gulps down water and breathes heavily, exhausted.

But it does not end there.

Immediately after her first practice, Carter rushes to the tennis courts at Santa Clara University for an additional two-and a-half hour intensive clinic where professional coaches continue to push her limits. On the 20-minute drive to the courts and back, she manages to fit in several pages of homework. Finally, she arrives home at around 8:30 p.m., her body aching for a break but knowing the following day will be exactly the same.

Carter, who started playing the grueling sport after trying it out when she was 9, is ranked in the top 20 in Northern California.

Fellow freshman Stephanie Ren, who also began competitive tennis after finding her niche in the sport when she was 11, is in in the top 30 for her age group.

Both Carter and Ren are key assets to the girls’ tennis varsity team and have brought with them their experience of playing years of competitive United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournaments.

One such USTA tournament is the National Zone Team Championships, a competition in which a select few of the age group’s highest ranked players are selected to play on a team representing their section.

This past summer Carter and Ren were selected to be a part of the Northern California team, providing them with a first-hand experience of being on a national team.

Since they are regular tournament players, the two have added depth to the team with Carter playing No. 4 singles and Ren at No. 2 doubles and often help to secure key matches needed to gain victories over rival league opponents.

“They work well with the team and are unfazed by any pressures,” said senior team captain Smita Sabada. “They also have great team chemistry, making them valuable additions.”

Before their success came years of dedication and long days of demanding practices. Committing to the school team means additional practices that run Monday through Thursday for over than two hours. In addition, weekends are completely filled with waiting out lengthy delays at tournaments and playing multiple matches, leaving Carter and Ren struggling to balance the team practices and games, schoolwork and down time.

Carter said, “I do a lot of homework in the car while driving and to and from tennis, and I also try to finish homework earlier so I can go to more practices. I’ve had to drop a lot of my extracurriculars, such as piano and guitar, to make time for tennis.”

Despite having to constantly manage their time efficiently, the girls enjoy the feeling of being on the school team.

“My favorite part of being on the team is that everyone is so supportive so there is less pressure, and it’s really relaxed and fun to play with your friends,” Ren said.

Both Carter and Ren find that team trips, such as the one to Fresno for the California Tennis Classic tournament on Sept. 5, in which the varsity team placed third overall, are special because they provide the girls  with a strong support system throughout their matches.

“[Fresno] was a really memorable experience,” Carter said. “It was where I got to bond with the other players on the team and play challenging matches.”.

Ren added, “Being a freshman on varsity is fun because even though you are younger than everyone else, you don’t really feel like a freshman. Everyone acts the same toward you.”

The team’s acceptance of them has increased their enjoyment of being on the school team.

Carter said, “Although tennis is an individual sport, it is nice to be on a team. Teammates give you unconditional support and become like second family.”