Crews at Newport Harbor High spent three weeks this summer
resurfacing the tennis courts, filling in the cracks that had slowly
slithered their way through the concrete over the years.
The school's girls tennis team also had some sizable holes to fill
from a year ago, with the departure of four players who each advanced
to the round of 16 in the CIF Southern Section Division I doubles
But Coach Fletcher Olson, entering her 10th year at the helm,
welcomes a healthy dose of newcomers to compliment five returners
from a team that went 14-6, winning a share of the Sea View League
title with Woodbridge before advancing to the second round of the CIF
Division I playoffs.
"The girls came back well prepared," Olson, the school's girls
athletic director, said. "They worked hard over the summer because
they know they needed to work hard. It will be a tough year."
The Tars lost four to graduation from last year's squad, including
Vanessa Dunlap and Bonnie Adams, who claimed the Sea View League
doubles crown with a victory over teammates A.J. Olson and Diana
Khoury. Both doubles teams reached the round of 16 in the CIF doubles
But Fletcher Olson, with the help of trainer Cam Williams, has
started this year's squad on a conditioning program that includes
weightlifting in addition to the cardiovascular training they get
when on the court.
Players spend one hour a week in full-body training and Olson
expects the program to continue once the season starts.
"We found it really helps in defeating any kind of injuries,"
Olson said. "We've ramped it up a bit to help the kids."
Olson hopes the added exercises will help prevent injuries and
prepare the Tars for a schedule that includes nonleague duels with
perennial strongholds Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and Troy in
addition to a league slate featuring two matches each with Woodbridge
Several Newport players participated in summer tournaments, also
helping to hone their games, Olson said.
Among them are returning juniors Brittanny Sturgess, Carly Adams
and Megan McKay along with sophomores Chrissy Schwartz and Sasha
Sturgess reached the quarterfinals of the girls 16s singles draw in the Costa Mesa Junior Tennis Classic while teaming with McKay to
advance to the girls 16s doubles quarterfinals in the same
Teammates Jill Casserly and Melissa Chinn, both juniors, also
reached the girls 16s doubles quarterfinals. Casserly and Chinn both
reached the league singles finals while playing on Newport's junior
varsity team, which went 19-0 last season.
"[Casserly and Chinn] have a lot of experience playing together in
[United States Tennis Association] and [Southern California Tennis
Association] tournaments," Olson said. "They have really improved
their singles games over the summer."
Newport will also be bolstered with the additions of seniors
Brittany Nelson and Brittany Edmonston, juniors Brittany Cluck and
Gabrielle Nestande, and with freshman Alex McIntosh, sister of Krista
McIntosh, a three-year varsity member who graduated in 2003.
Olson said much of practices will focus on developing doubles
strategies along with overall tactics.
Brooke Taylor, who played for Olson at Newport before moving on to
the University of Arizona, enters her second year as assistant coach.
Olson said Taylor will provide valuable instruction, especially in
The Sailors began practicing on the resurfaced courts Aug. 23 for
their nonleague opener against visiting Costa Mesa Sept. 10.
Players will work not only on improving their games, but also
learning how balls bounce off the new courts, sans cracks.
"[The courts] are a little slower that the old surface, but the
old ones were so slick that anything would seen slow after what we
had," Olson said. "Gone are those local bounces [from the cracks].
We'll have to relearn those."
The Sailors will attempt to foster further unity with weekly team
But Olson has already caught a glimpse of what the future might
"They have a lot of fun," Olson said of her players. "These are
great kids. We have good chemistry on this team."
Newport has dedicated Court No. 1 to Charlie Bleiker, who coached
boys and girls at Newport for 28 years before his sudden death in
August 2003 at age 66.