There is an excitement around the Huntington Beach High girls’ tennis team this season.
Coach Suzanne DeVries, in her eighth year with the Oilers and her second as varsity head coach, said this is the best Huntington Beach squad in her time with the program.
The Oilers are young but talented, with four freshmen in the starting nine. Cindy Huynh and Solaya Han play singles, while Daniella Pokorny and Sophie Jin-Ngo play doubles.
Huntington Beach is in the Wave League, the lower league in the Sunset Conference. But the visiting Oilers still eased to a 12-6 victory over a Surf League team, Fountain Valley, in a conference crossover match Thursday.
“We have nowhere to go but up, hopefully,” DeVries said. “My job is really just to keep them together as a team. Obviously, those big girls, they’re tournament players and they get a lot of their own coaching. But they’re here, they’re working as a team and it’s awesome. They get along great.
“Sometimes bringing freshmen onto a varsity bench with seniors and juniors, freshmen are much different kids. But they’re just all really great. It’s been a great preseason.”
Huntington Beach (6-3) finished fifth in the six-team Sunset League last season, but the Oilers showed they will be a contender in the Wave League, which also includes Laguna Beach, Edison and Marina.
Huynh and Han both easily swept their three singles sets Thursday against Fountain Valley, with scores from 6-0 to 6-2. Haley Forth, a sophomore, also won twice for the Barons, who claimed eight of the nine singles sets.
Pokorny and senior Emily Gray won twice at No. 1 doubles before they were subbed out. Jin-Ngo won once at No. 2 doubles with senior Kaitlyn Palacio, before they were also subbed out in the third round.
Substitutes Maggie Rae Walker and Sahiba Grewal won the other doubles set for Huntington Beach, in the third round.
“I think after our first couple of matches, our personalities just clicked,” Pokorny said of her partnership with Gray, adding that she usually plays more on the baseline with Gray at the net. “She’s kind of like my senior mom … I’ve never been on a team. When you’re having an off day, you have someone to depend on, and it just gives you a lot of new friends.”
Huynh, Pokorny and Han said they all play in United States Tennis Assn. junior tournaments away from high school tennis. That kind of dedication will benefit the Oilers, who DeVries said have a growing program overall with 50 players spread across three teams.
“We’re really doing well,” Han said. “I just can’t wait to play at Huntington Beach as a senior, go through all four years.”
Fountain Valley (3-5) has been a contender in the Sunset League but lacks the depth this season, coach Harshul Patel said. The Barons lost a formidable class, led by Hanh Pham and Vikki Nguyen, to graduation.
“None of them play year-round,” Patel said of the players on his current roster. “Hopefully, that will change.”
Sophomore Joanne Tran and freshman Nghi Trinh swept in doubles for the Barons, who play host to Laguna Beach on Tuesday in another crossover match. Senior Charisse Vu and sophomore Kaylee Tran won twice in doubles, while Christy Chau was the only Fountain Valley player to win a singles set. The sophomore beat a Huntington Beach substitute in the third round.