Edison High girls’ tennis coach Dave Lemons said that Zoe Coggins has a Type A personality.
Chargers senior captain Cassie Oakes called Coggins the loudest player on the team.
These are not digs at Coggins, whose competitiveness has been apparent ever since she plopped right into the No. 1 singles spot as a freshman. She is a tournament tennis player on a team not known for those, and that energy is needed and contagious.
“I’ve wanted competitiveness in our team since freshman year,” Coggins said. “I’ve wanted that same competitiveness that I’ve had in tournaments to be brought out here. Usually when we play, it’s like it doesn’t matter if we win or lose. This year we actually have a shot [to win league], and I’m really happy that I get to be here for that experience.”
Coggins is now a junior for Edison, and the stakes have never been higher. With the restructuring of the six-team Sunset League into the eight-team Sunset Conference, Edison is a contender in the newly formed Wave League. The Chargers have not won a league title since 2002.
Through the first half of league play, Edison (6-8, 2-1 in league) sits in second place in the four-team league behind Laguna Beach. Even if the Chargers don’t win league, a top-two finish would be key, as it would secure a spot in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Coggins, who has been playing tennis since she was 5 years old and in tournaments since she was 8, is a big reason why Edison is in the top half of the league as things currently stand. She swept 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 singles as the Chargers opened league with a 10-8 victory over Huntington Beach at home on Oct. 4.
One set in particular highlighted Coggins’ growth. She beat highly touted Huntington Beach freshman Cindy Huynh 6-2, and kept her composure while doing so. Coggins was already up 2-0 when her serve was broken. On the final point of that game, Huynh called a close ball along the baseline just long.
Coggins questioned the close call, but only in passing. She went back to work.
“If it was my freshman year, I would have said, ‘That ball was in,’” she said. “I would have gotten a line judge right away. But then I realized, it’s my fault too for hitting the line so closely. I need to bring my shots in, you know what I mean? That’s what I’ve learned from my coaches. Instead of getting mad about it or questioning her, you can find other ways to work around it.”
Coggins definitely works hard. She said it’s not unusual for her to spend nearly five hours a day on court. She will come to Edison practice, then to the KG Elite program, led by Kareem Gobran at Estancia High. She said Gobran has helped her bring together three key components of her tennis: skills, mental stability and physical strength.
Coggins said she has lost just six sets all season. That has made a difference for Edison, which does have a strong singles lineup overall with players like junior Shannon Stolaruk, sophomore Cassey Hitch and freshman Kailee You.
“Even though she’s not a captain on this team right now, she’s taken an active role as a leader, which is great,” Lemons said. “Girls are trying to follow her and play to her potential, make sure they don’t let her down. She’s our best player, and the other girls want to help out and pitch in when they can.”
Coggins credits her father Bruce for getting her into the sport, but she said her motivation waned for a while. She considered playing lacrosse last spring as Edison was starting its girls’ lacrosse program, but ultimately quit before tryouts to focus solely on tennis.
The Chargers can be glad she did. She is fully committed to the team and that means a lot, said Oakes, a doubles player who like Coggins is in her third year on varsity.
“I think that when Zoe is happy and into it, I feel like the whole team is happy and into it,” Oakes said. “She sets the tone for the whole team.”
Born: Nov. 8, 2002
Hometown: Huntington Beach
Height: 5 feet 5
Coach: Dave Lemons
Favorite food: Spaghetti
Favorite movie: “The Notebook”
Favorite athletic moment: Taking second place at a USTA girls’ 16s tournament in Long Beach last summer.