The racket swung and the flying yellow-green streak landed in the court, scoring the winning point for the PHS women’s varsity tennis team, which took its 18th league title this year after a close match on Nov. 1 against Castro Valley.
The team kept up the winning season by dominating in NCS this year and taking first place. Team captain senior Hanna Marcus said the seniors were especially determined to make this year count.
“We were really excited to play in NCS this year because we got to see some really good teams outside of our league,” Marcus said.
While the team’s main accomplishment this year is continuing their long winning streak, the team also plays tournaments in Fresno against non-league teams and even though they did not always win, the challenge made it fun, Marcus said. Marcus said one of the season’s highlights was playing in Fresno because they got to see new teams and have one big team sleepover.
Marcus said that in the past, players stayed in friend groups determined by grade, but this year, everyone was extremely bonded.
“This year we just tried to mix it up as much as possible and everyone has gotten really close,” Marcus said.
They do not all play at once so they will watch each other’s games and cheer their teammates on, player, junior Madison Aikawa said.
“The team bond is really significant this year,” Aikawa said. “Not only do people have really good individual skills, but they can work together.”
The team-wide support is present on and off the court, Marcus said. If someone is down on the court, they all cheer for each other. They all have nicknames for each other and take a team trip to get bubble tea every Wednesday after practice.
“It makes tennis and practice so much better to have the team so bonded,” Marcus said. “There’s just this great energy on the court knowing that your teammates are right behind you, cheering you on.”
Before games, the team mentally prepares and has huddles to discuss their opponents and strategies.
“They’re a close-knit group,” women’s tennis coach Jim Landes said. “And of course that helps.”
Last year, the team lost a lot of their major senior players. They also got a new coach this year. Despite all of these changes, the team adapted really well, Marcus said.
“This year we managed to shift it around and really just make it work,” Marcus said.
Landes said that the team is dedicated and he enjoys coaching varsity because of the higher skill level and the challenge.
“The season has been especially great, not only because we are winning, but because we are having fun while we are winning,” Aikawa said.