The tennis courts at Del Norte High School have seen a lot of new faces over the last few days.
Only junior Alec Westbrook, who won a White Star last year in doubles along with his brother Blair Westbrook, and sophomore Cameron Douglas return to the team from last year's squad.
Senior Lyndon Yang and juniors Sunni Vue, Ger Xiong and Rocky Lo all got their first taste of high school tennis when practice began Feb. 19. Senior Sam Crisler, a late addition to the team, picked up a racquet for the first time just three days before Del Norte's first meet.
"We had to teach them basic skills, how to play a game, the scoring and the rules as much as possible," said Del Norte assistant coach Jane Rumiano. "That is a lot of things to teach somebody in that short of a period of time."
Del Norte started the season with a tough matchup against Fortuna on Tuesday, falling 0-8 to start the year.
"It was kind of a David versus Goliath tennis match against Fortuna," Rumiano said. "While their players were experienced and most had played tennis for four years, our team is mostly comprised of rookie tennis players who have played as little as three days."
While Fortuna's experience showed through in the final score, Rumiano was pleased with the attitude that the Warriors played with throughout the meet.
"What is so cool about these guys is they really love playing tennis and they obviously want to get better at it," Rumiano said. "What impressed me to no end against Fortuna is that they played until the very last point was over. They put everything they had into it. They were obviously outgunned out there, but they still tried their hardest. You have to love their attitude."
The Warriors have displayed that same hard work in practice as they did in the first meet. Rumiano said that it is not unusual for the players to stick around after a two-hour tennis practice, just to play tennis for another two hours.
"They just love to play the game," Rumiano said. "As far as a coach goes, I have nothing to complain about."
While most of the team is still new to tennis, Rumiano believes that the newcomers are well suited for the sport.
"They are all good athletes," Rumiano said. "They don't play on the high school basketball team, but they play a lot of basketball and you can tell by the way that they move around the court. They have great balance and agility and all of those things are important in tennis."
For now, the team is just focusing on improving every time out.
"We have each person develop their own set of goals for each match instead of focusing on just winning," Rumiano said. "They have to understand that they are just developing so they are not going to go out and win every match right off the bat."
Though the wins may take awhile to come, Rumiano is confident that they will eventually if the Warriors stick with it.
"I think they all have really great potential," she said. "I think that they probably will become really good tennis players someday."
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org.