Culver High Girls Tennis Face Stiff Competition
By Fred Altieri
Observer Sports Reporter
One thing is for certain, this fall edition of the Culver City High girls tennis team will be swinging into the unknown as it takes on not only two perennial Ocean League powerhouses but also opens the season against very tough competition from familiar South Bay tennis programs.
This past week, led by head coach Phil Rothenberg and assistant coach Seth Lewkow conducting drills and instruction, the girls were practicing as they have been for practically the entire summer on the school campus courts in preparation for their first match in the first week of September. Adding to the pressure: the team is returning very few members from last year's squad due to graduation and their best player not being available due to an exchange student program.
However, there maybe a silver lining or two that may help the team navigate their uncertain course: a local top-level player and Culver City resident may be at their disposal courtesy of the home school program. Coach Rothenberg gave his overall perspective of the current team after Friday's session.
"We worked over the summer for about five weeks. We started up again this week. We started the day after school and then we worked until the middle of July. So we had 3 1/2 weeks off and now we're back at it."
"We have a lot of young players. We could possibly get in to the playoffs. If we get in it's going to be as a wild card. We always get in as a wild card because in our league we have SaMo and Beverly. Lawndale doesn't have a team. El Segundo is coming in replacing Inglewood. Inglewood was an easy win for us. Now El Segundo beat us twice last year. They were better than us in singles. We're about the same level in doubles."
"Normally we have 12, 13 girls on the varsity and three or four subs. And we have about the same number this year. We're going to have so many freshmen that have such potential. In a few years they are going to be good. I'd rather they play the JV's instead of the juniors."
"Our best player was going to be a senior this year. Jennifer Tang is going to be an exchange student in Japan. It's too bad because she's really talented. She was all-league as a freshman. So it was a big loss. Last year Jennifer was the only junior that played and the other eight girls were all seniors and have all graduated."
"The rest of our single players that are returning are competent and basically girls that are going to work to keep the ball in play and make their opponents hit other balls. We are going to struggle a little bit in singles."
"The girls that are playing doubles have making a lot of progress from last year. We moved a few freshmen up. A few sophomores are going to be decent. We're just going to go out there and try to extend the points and make the other teams work harder to score points."
"However, we do have a girl coming in as a senior. First she was at a few tennis camps in San Diego. She went on home studies. Now she's going to be part of the High School in independent study. So she's going to playing for us a little bit. Her name is Danielle Garrido."
"She's one of the best juniors in Southern California. If she plays, when she plays, that's going to help us. She can't practice with our players because she's too good of a player. She has her own coaches, her own hitting partners. So she'll just play. The only person she could practice with if she wanted to come out would be Seth."
"I'm not sure which matches she'll be playing for us and when she'll be playing in tournaments. She travels all across the country, in Canada and other parts of the world to play tournaments."
"The three girls that are going to play singles are seniors Kira Furuichi and Lada Goetzke and a sophomore, Kiara Embrey. They're consistent but behind the better teams' players. But as long as we work on staying in the points and being competitive, make the girls earn their points and not making a lot of unforced errors."
"That's what our goal is: to hit another ball, to put pressure on the opponents and be competitive. If we're stretching the points out, making good decisions, paying attention to where the other team is, where's the open court and hitting the right shot selection then we have a pretty good chance to be successful."
The 2014 Girls Tennis Team:
Head coach: Phil Rothenberg
Assistant coach: Seth Lewkow
Singles: Danielle Garrido – Sr., Kira Furuichi – Sr., Lada Goetzke – Sr., Kiara Embrey – Soph.
Cianna Robinson and Naomi Choice
Doubles: Ruth Samson – Sr., Rachel Gonzalez – Sr., Colin Kimberlin – Sr., Beverly Li – Jr., Laura Bourne – Soph., Lydia Ko – Soph., Rabeeya Mayet – Jr., Camilla Bond – Jr., Martha Fente – Sr. and Cianna Robinson – Sr.
Fall Schedule 2014:
Sep 5 at Torrance, Sep 6 vs. Venice, Sep 9 vs. Windward, Sep 11 vs. Torrance, Sep 16 at Lynwood, Sep 18 vs. Paramount, Sep 23 vs. North Torrance, Sep 25 at North Torrance, Sep 30 at Redondo, Oct 2 at West Torrance, Oct 7 vs. Shelhevet, Oct 9 at Santa Monica, Oct 14 vs. El Segundo, Oct 16 vs. Beverly Hills, Oct 21 vs. Santa Monica, Oct 23 at El Segundo, Oct 27 at Beverly Hills, Oct 29 – Ocean League Singles, Oct 30 – Ocean League Doubles.