Experienced players lead the charge; new players reinvigorate the program
One year ago, the Del Norte High girls tennis program was in danger of discontinuation due to a lack of players. This season, Warriors coach Jane Rumiano has faced the exact opposite problem.
Del Norte has 18 rostered players as its first match - Saturday, Sept. 7, at McKinleyville High - draws near, well above the necessary minimum of six players.
"I'm really excited about having so many girls," said Rumiano, the Warriors' longtime coach who rejoined the program in the middle of the 2012 season. "They're all as nice as can be. They're very coachable. I couldn't ask for anything else."
Senior Panhia Yang and juniors Jordan Babich, Debbie Yang, Breahna Molina and Alexis Wright return from the 2010 squad, which went 5-5 in Humboldt-Del Norte League match play.
"All the girls that played last year have just this fabulous work ethic," Rumiano said.
the team's most experienced player, is Del Norte's top singles player
and will make up half its top doubles team. She joined with the
graduated Taylor Cleland, her cousin, in winning the HDN doubles
championship, and won a match at the California Interscholastic
Federation North Coast Section playoffs.
Babich spent part of her
summer working with a tennis pro at the Rogue Valley Swim and Tennis
Club in Medford, Ore., to expand her game.
"We went back to the basics of footwork," Babich said. "We worked on my serve a lot - it (still) needs a little bit of work."
practice, Babich often plays against members of the community recruited
by Rumiano, testing her in ways her less experienced teammates cannot.
pushes me," Babich said. "If I do a drill and mess up, she'll make me
do it again. She has me help other girls and be a leader for the team."
lauded Debbie Yang as the most-improved player on the Warriors over the
summer; Yang will begin the season as the No. 2 singles player. Panhia
Yang and Wright are in competition for the next two singles spots, with
Yang holding an edge.
"This is my last year, so there are certain
teams that I'd like to beat (in matches)," Yang said. "To beat those
teams, we have to work hard now on the court."
Yang, also a point
guard on the Del Norte girls basketball team, worked with Rumiano and
her sister over the summer on refining her game in preparation for the
"I've worked on all my serves," Yang said. "I think I've
gotten stronger. I'm taking more control of myself and not letting (my
opponents) put me down."
Senior Marine Henry, an exchange student
from Belgium spending the year in Crescent City, is currently the
Warriors' No. 5 player, according to Rumiano. Freshman Raili Makela is
holding onto the No. 6 spot.
Other newcomers to the team include
seniors Elleana Gehr and Dakota Griffin; juniors Salina Xiong and Kia
Lee; sophomores Olivia Jeffcoat, Ridhee Patel, Emily Thor, Anissa Vang
and Ashlee Hakchaleun; and freshmen Samantha Bollinger and Kavi Memmer.
watch them play. They have some speed," Panhia Yang said. "They're
still young; they've got a lot of time in high school. If they work now,
they could be good by their senior years."
Rumiano hopes to schedule as many exhibition matches as
possible with HDN schools to break in her new players during the season and get them
playing girls other than their teammates.
"They're beginners, but they're good athletes," Rumiano said. "One thing strikes me - they're so coachable."
Wins and losses, ecstasy and heartbreak, will come and go. Skill development has a habit of sticking around.
Reach Robert Husseman at email@example.com .
Sept. 7: at McKinleyville, 10 a.m.
Sept. 10: at Eureka, 4 p.m.
Sept. 14: at Arcata, 10 a.m.
Sept. 17: North Coast Prep at home, 4 p.m.
Sept. 21: at Fortuna, 10 a.m.
Sept. 24: Bye
Sept. 28: at St. Bernard's, 10 a.m.
Oct. 1: McKinleyville at home, 4 p.m.
Oct. 5: Eureka at home, 10 a.m.
Oct. 8: at Arcata, 4 p.m.
Oct. 12: NORTH COAST PREP AT HOME, 10 A.M.
Oct. 15: Fortuna at home, 4 p.m.
Oct. 19: Bye
Oct. 22: ST. BERNARD'S AT HOME, 4 P.M.
OCT. 26: HDN SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIPS AT DEL NORTE
NOV. 1: HDN DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIPS AT DEL NORTE