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Youth and Experience Keys to Tennis, Cross-country Success

Girls Tennis

In two seasons at the helm, Don Davis has yet to see his team lose an Orange Coast league match, winning back-to-back titles in ’11 and ’12, and earning Laguna Beach High School coach of the year honors for the 2012-13.

Davis lost four players to graduation from last year’s squad, which reached CIF semi-finals by beating Oxford Academy 12-6, Santa Monica 10-8 and Valencia 12-6, before falling to Arcadia 5-13.

Gone is Laguna’s number one doubles team of Dominique Willette and Chloe Mansour, as well as number two doubles player Katelyn Bo.

Laguna's top three singles players from last season, from left, Kira Hamilton, Brooke Michaels and Bailey Jaeger return to the court to lead the Breakers. Photo courtesy of LBHS Tennis.

Laguna’s top three singles players from last season, from left, Kira Hamilton, Brooke Michaels and Bailey Jaeger return to the court to lead the Breakers.
Photo courtesy of LBHS Tennis.

Senior Brooke Michaels (MVP) and juniors Kira Hamilton and Bailey Jaeger, the league’s top three singles players from last year, return to anchor an experienced team that also features eight other all-league performers.

Singles player Nicole Doiron, a senior, earned all-league honors, along with seven doubles players, including seniors Sarah Nederlander, Shawna Yang and Stephanie Tat, juniors Olivia Morrison and Madeline Loomis, and sophomores Natasha Keces and Ashley Shelton.

Sophomore Ashley Fair also returns from last season. Seniors Anna Heitmann, Nina Bo and Josie Goson, who are new to the team, round out Davis’ varsity roster.

As always, staying focused, healthy and injury free are keys to another successful season for Davis’ team. Estancia and Calvary Chapel look to be Laguna’s toughest competition in league. “We’ll need to stay focused and not assume that we’ll repeat as league champs,” said Davis.

The singles rotation is pretty solid, with Michaels, Hamilton and Jaeger leading the way. But the doubles combinations are new and will have to “focus on playing strategically and as a team,” said Davis.

The Breakers open their home schedule against Northwood and Mater Dei on Tuesday, Sept. 10 and Thursday, Sept 12 respectively.

 

 

Boys and Girls Cross Country

The girls are looking to capture their sixth Orange Coast league title in eight tries since the league began in 2006. Their only losses were to Estancia in ’06 and Godinez in ‘11. The boys hope to get their program back on track after finishing third in ’11 and fourth in ’12, following five straight OC league titles.

Last year at CIF finals, both teams finished eighth, marking the first time in seven years that neither team made the trip to Woodward Park in Fresno for state finals. The top seven finishers at CIF qualify for state.

 All-league senior Eliza Romero, shown here as a sophomore at CIF finals, should play a big role in getting the Breaker girls back to state. Photo by Robert Campbell.

All-league senior Eliza Romero, shown here as a sophomore at CIF finals, should play a big role in getting the Breaker girls back to state.
Photo by Robert Campbell.

Girls’ Coach Steve Lalim has his entire varsity lineup back.  All-league performers Eliza Romero, a senior, and juniors Brenna Merchant, Carlee Ressler and Natalie Kimball join senior Monica White, juniors Janie Crawford and Livie Clark and sophomore Pearl Shoemaker to form a young but experienced squad. “We’re deep with quality talent,” said Lalim.

As a PE instructor at Thurston, Lalim is always grooming up-and-coming talent to keep his Breaker program on top. This year is no exception, as incoming freshmen Allison Konno, Kirsten Landseidel, Greer Jacobs, and Solveig Erngren all have the potential to “make a serious impact on our varsity team,” said Lalim.

Their main competition in league will be Godinez, who edged Laguna by six points last year for the title. To get by the Grizzlies and back to state, the Breakers need to stay healthy follow Lalim’s mantra: “Train hard, win easy. Train easy, lose.”

Boys Coach Scott Wittkop has four of his top five back from last season’s CIF team. All-league performers Casey Koprowski, a senior, and Grant Barton, a junior, will team up with senior Veda Rebollar and junior Cameron Zuziak to form the nucleus of Wittkop’s starting seven.

Like Lalim, Wittkop has the benefit of youth and depth. His freshman squad from last season went undefeated, winning the Mt SAC, Woodbridge, Don Bosco and Dana Hills Invitationals. One member of that freshman squad, Penn Nielson, made the CIF team.

The others, Carter Fraser, Drake Butler, Mason Pitz, Zac Spitz, James Marshall and Sterling Marshall, will “be a big part of our varsity team this year,” said Wittkop.

Senior Ian Ring and junior Liam Corrigan fill out the Wittkop’s varsity roster.

Wittkop worked with his team during the off-season to build a strong work ethic and team leadership skills. They studied the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s  “Pyramid of Success” during weekend retreats to Big Bear, where they learned that “the team is bigger than the individual,” said Wittkop.

Their goal for the season is simple: achieve success through hard work and by focusing on the details.  “Little things make big things happen,” said Wittkop.

Both squads begin their season Friday, Sept. 6 at the Seaside Invitational at San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura, followed by the Laguna Hills Invitational, Saturday, Sept. 14 at Laguna Hills High.

 

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