By LUKE CURTIS
After a loss in the CIF Sectionals Final, Girls’ Tennis was able to regroup and make UNI History with a CIF Regionals win.
“In the CIF finals we lost 10-8, it was a really hard and sad loss for us and for the coaches. Together as a team we knew that it was important to win regionals because we needed to show people how hard we have been practicing and the talent that each player has,” senior and second singles Tiffany Carrillo said.
Part of being an athlete is continuing to press forward in the face of adversity, which the team was able to do because of their strong bond.
“I think what was a defining factor in our success was our motivation for redemption after losing the CIF Final. The existing bond between everyone helped us to succeed in regionals. Although our matches were stressful, in between them we would mess around. We would help each other feel relaxed so we weren’t stressed going into each match. I think the bond between us definitely helped us dig deeper into ourselves to clutch a win for the whole program, not just for ourselves,” junior and first doubles Emily Markus said.
The victory was a fitting end to a successful season, where the team finished with just one loss.
“This season was really special because we were the first girls team to ever win at Regionals. We proved ourselves after the CIF loss, which made the season very successful. The most memorable moment of the season was senior day when we had a pink out day for our games,” number one singles senior Cami Brown said.
Unfortunately during CIF Regionals, Coach John Kessler suffered a brain hemorrhage, and was rushed to the hospital. In gratitude and respect for his coaching, the girls became even more motivated to win CIF Regionals.
“Part of our motivation was our desire to win regionals for Coach Kessler. He unfortunately was sent to the hospital during the semifinals for regionals and couldn’t be with us for the final round. The night before the final round, we told each other that we were going to win it for him. We came out and were able to accomplish our goal. It was the most heartwarming moment, where we all came to a common goal of winning regionals for our beloved coach,” senior captain Yui Hashiyada said.
Reflecting upon a near undefeated season and a CIF Regional title, the girls made sure to articulate their thanks to the coach who made it all possible.
“I never played high school tennis until I arrived here last semester. Thanks to Mr.Kessler, he convinced me to be part of the team. I wanted to experience what was like to play high school tennis. I loved how my teammates supported me, and my coaches helped me in each match to become a better tennis player,” Carrillo said.
One thing the coach taught them throughout the season was character. Even in the event of defeat at CIF, the girls held themselves high and stayed professional through it all.
“We came in with an undefeated season, and we walked away with nothing after the loss at the Final. We were so determined to win at CIF Regionals for our school. What surprised me the most was the calm and humble attitudes of our girls throughout the two days for regionals. We were very determined, but we didn’t let the strong emotions get to us,” Hashiyada said. “After the win, we stayed professional, making sure we displayed our sportsmanship and politeness at the awarding ceremony.”
Their time with Coach Kessler in UNI tennis has also impacted their ability to be successful in everyday life, not just on the court.
“Uni tennis has helped me become a better student athlete this season. I developed better time management skills and a new sense of responsibility,” Markus said.
With the season coming to an end, the team now prays for the health of their coach.
“He has put every ounce of effort and heart into our team. Now that we have won it for him, we all pray for the fast recovery of Coach Kessler,” Hashiyada said.
The gofundme to support the coach has raised over 75,000 dollars.