Fresh Start for Girls’ Tennis

Viking Tennis Tries to Recover and Rebound

The mood was quite somber last November when the girls’ tennis team waved off its 13 seniors at the last home match.

“We lost a huge portion of the team,” said sophomore Karina Uchiumi.

After losing half of its varsity team – including #1 singles seed Tara Kurihara – the team is focusing of rebuilding.

“It will be a hard year,” says Coach Dan Leon, “but the girls are working hard and I am confident that we can attempt to come in the top bracket at MVALs.”

Coach Dan Leon, a former Moreau coach, was Mission San Jose’s coach two years ago.  He, along with Coach C.H. (another former MSJ coaching alum), Coach West Kurihara, and Coach Gary Lou, form the panel of coaches for the 2009-2010 school year.  Coach Leon hopes to be coaching for many seasons to come and is determined to start his first as a coach with a bang.

Several team goals for the upcoming season are the big “C” (consistency), increased match play, and versatile practice for both singles and doubles.  In past years, the girls mainly worked on drills together.  This year, Coach Dan is working on creating “specialized drills” so the girls can train certain skills each and every day.

While teams in the past had 30-35 girls trying out, his year only 24 girls tried out for the team, and 10 will be on varsity and junior varsity each with four alternates.  Some members of the team are particularly worried that Irvington’s steady stream of tennis players may be drying up.  Vida Bao, a doubles player, is the lone freshman to join the team this year.

Lady Vikings played three pre-season matches against Independence High, Amador Valley, and Arroyo High School.  Although the varsity team lost all three matches, several doubles games were three-setters and very close.

“Right now, it’s all about practice,” said Assistant Coach West Kurihara. “The real season starts on September 22nd with our first league match.”

On that day, the Lady Vikings will be squaring off against their primary rival: Mission San Jose.  Rivalry between IHS and MSJ has been long-standing and spanning decades.  Two years ago, Irvington Girls Tennis squared off against MSJ three times and lost each time 3-4.

“We were so close,” then-junior (now-college freshman) Tara Kurihara said.

With both Mission and Irvington having new coaches this year and increasingly competitive teams, one can only wonder how their faceoffs will end.