Beyond the team’s talent, what has taken center stage in the team’s success is the selflessness of every player. The chemistry and unity hasn’t made them waver in the face of similarly talented teams.
Coming in as the number one seed in the Open Division, a section filled with very competitive teams, the Trojans reiterated themselves as the favorites to win CIF with a 13-5 win against West Ranch.
“To win the first round of CIF, we knew we had the talent. We have plenty of that each year, but the most important thing we had, especially against competitive teams, is the team chemistry,” senior captain Yui Hashiyada said. ‘For the quarterfinals, all the girls from Frosh, JV, and Varsity came out to watch and it felt amazing to play with all the support.”
In order to get through the tough moments of the match, members of the team were able to lean on their teammates energy for support.
“Our whole team is so closely knit, we feed off each other’s positive energy. It helps us fight when times get tough in order to bring home a win. Today, going into the match, everyone was nervous,” number one doubles partner and junior Emily Markus said. “Though as the match progressed, everyone stepped up. Whether or not our teammates were playing, you could always hear someone cheering. It definitely kept the positive vibe around, it kept us motivated.”
The identity of the team continued to espouse confidence among the group of girls.
“The support for each other, along with our talent, lets us come out victorious. Everyone steps up to help out. The leadership is an important factor,” junior Natalia Tobon said.
This leadership can be credited to the coaching of head coach John Kessler, who has let the girls shine while emphasizing through practice the need for a strong foundation. Such a foundation includes basic skills conditioning and more advanced strategies to optimize court vision and aggressive plays.
“I feel like the coaching motivates us to fight for every point no matter what the score is. When things get tough in our matches, it is always reassuring to know that we can rely on the steady training we’ve put in, and also have the rest of the team to carry us if we aren’t having our best day,” number one singles senior Cami Brown said.
Their work ethic in training is reflected in the games, along with the competitiveness seen on the court by each player, which has given all players an individual goal to challenge themselves.
“The other singles players really motivate me to play my best. It’s nice knowing that we push each other during practice, and they’re also there having my back when I am having a tough match,” Brown said.
Such a presence was necessary, as the girls had to regroup after a particular stretch in the season.
“We had to evaluate what we would do to ensure the mistakes made in one of our matches would not occur again in the next match. We had to move forward into the next round of matches with a fresh positive mindset,” Markus said. “Moving on, for us to win the semifinal, and hopefully finals for CIF, we really need to continue to have that positive, team-centered mindset.”
Despite this win, the team is still looking ahead to their ultimate goal of winning the CIF title.
“We’re still looking onto our main goal: to be the first girl’s tennis team at UNI to win the CIF championship,” number one doubles partner junior Mya Wang said.
After losing in the championships in each of the last two seasons, the team is confident they can achieve their goal this season due to their plethora of focus on the court.
“I think the win helped boost our confidence going into the semifinals and finals this week. We’ve been working hard all season for these playoffs. It’s a testament to the leadership from everyone pitching in. Now we’re here, and we’re going to try our best to actualize our goal of winning CIF for the first time in history,” Tobon said.
The Trojans face off against Westlake on November 13th next in the Semifinal.