High School Tennis : Palomar League Filled With Title Contenders

Too bad the girls’ tennis teams in the 3-A Palomar League can’t be sprinkled around the county.

There’s a power surge north of San Diego city limits. The defending San Diego Section champion is Poway, and several coaches say the teams most likely to challenge for the next section team title could be league rivals San Dieguito, Mt. Carmel or Torrey Pines.

“There’s not another strong 3-A league like this one,” said Poway Coach Evi Yarnell, who has had 7 of 9 teams since ’79 reach the finals. The Titans also won the section in 1983.

“In this area, the schools draw from the upper-middle class, where the kid’s parents play and there are a lot of clubs,” Yarnell said.


Poway defeated Torrey Pines, 5-2, in last year’s section final and will be led this season by returning No. 1 Carla Quaresma, freshman Sasha Boros at No. 2 and junior Jodi Rosano at No. 3. Leah Splavec and Marni Brown also return.

If early matches are an indication of things to come--Poway lost to San Dieguito, 15-13, on Tuesday--it could be a long season in the Palomar League.

“Depth wise, we’re fine,” said Yarnell, a little shaken by the setback. “That was the first league match we’ve lost in a long time.”

In 2-A, defending team champion Bishop’s School and runner-up La Jolla are the perennial powers in both the City Western League and section competition. Bishop’s, normally a member of the 1-A Coastal League, plays 2-A tennis by request. The Knights tied La Jolla in league play last season and won the section final, 4-3.


Returners Branaca Elsberry, a junior, and Lynn Coakley, a sophomore, and freshman transfer Brooke Gelardi of Palos Verdes Estates are Bishop’s top three players. There are also five seniors: Pam Brown, Stephanie Willis, Sibylle Zillgens, Nini Schiess and Tiffany Hawkins.

“This is the best team I’ve fielded in my 12 years here,” Coach Bill Scott said.

La Jolla won the 2-A section from 1977-82, lost it in ’83, won it back from ’84-'86 and will be looking to reclaim the title under a new coach, Bess Behnke.

The Vikings might have the personnel to do so, with 10 returners from last year and a new No. 1, Lee Ann Rostovsky, the No. 3-ranked 14s player in the United States. La Jolla returns senior Tara Walsh at No. 2. Sophomore Lynn Bethard and Walsh have been concentrating on doubles and will be hard to beat.


Bonita Vista, the section 3-A team champion in ’86, has proven talent in the No. 1 and 2 spots with seniors Cammie Foley and Veena Prabhaker; both are nationally ranked in 18s. Also returning and ranked in Southern California are junior Connie Carbone and senior Jenny Stanford. The Barons also have three promising freshmen and one sophomore new this season.

Other teams with individual talent include Our Lady of Peace, with last year’s section champion, Angelica Gavaldon. The first freshman to win the title, she beat Foley, 6-4, 6-2. Newcomer Diane Ruston should give the Pilots some depth.

Coronado, which made it to the semifinals of team competition last year, has 14 players back, led by sophomore Marni Hunt and senior Justine Lesch.