Kristina Evloeva and her family moved to Southern California from Shadrinsk, Russia, when she was 11 years old.
In Shadrinsk, she didn’t play much tennis. She could only play on the weekends, because the tennis courts were a three-hour drive away.
“It’s such a far flight from Moscow,” Evloeva said. “It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, and it’s really freezing out there too. It’s literally in Siberia, so it’s very cold.”
Moving to Southern California meant better tennis for Evloeva, who said she learned English in just a couple of months. She first lived in Rolling Hills Estates before moving to Newport Coast in 2013. One thing she never did was attend a traditional school, though. That changed in 2017, when she enrolled at Corona del Mar High.
Her friend Danielle Willson, the two-time Daily Pilot Dream Team Girls’ Tennis Player of the Year, was an influence.
“Dani made it seem like so much fun,” Evloeva said. “She definitely pumped up the school for me. She was like, ‘You’ve got to come here.’ Especially because it was her last year and I got to spend it with her on the team, it was really fun.”
Willson graduated and moved on to USC. It was Evloeva who took over the No. 1 singles spot this year for the Sea Kings.
For her leadership, Evloeva also takes over the Dream Team Player of the Year mantle from Willson for the 2018 season.
The UC Davis-bound Evloeva had a 50-5 singles record this year for the Sea Kings, before teaming with senior teammate Roxy MacKenzie to win the Surf League doubles title and advancing to the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles semifinals.
Evloeva liked to wear bracelets, rings and long fake fingernails on the court. But she was no Anna Kournikova, a player who was known more for her looks than her talent.
“How she competed helped the tone for the matches,” CdM coach Jamie Gresh said. “To lose [five] sets on the year, she had a successful year. Playing practice sets during the year, she’d almost play too aggressively. I like that kids go for their shots in practice sets, but when you’re going to come out and grind during a match you’ve got to find that balance and be more patient. You’ve got to look for your opportunity, and I felt like she started to do that better in practice. It was well-rehearsed in practice toward the end of the year, then well-executed during the match. I think her shot selection got a lot better down the stretch of the season, too.”
Known for a powerful down-the-line backhand, Evloeva would also mix in drop shots to keep her opponents off-balance. It helped the Sea Kings, who lacked the overall talent of last year’s CIF Southern Section Division 1 and CIF Southern California Regional championship team, still have a successful season. CdM finished 19-4 and made the semifinals of the section and regional tournaments this season.
“I feel like we had a really good season, especially since we had so many changes,” Evloeva said. “Everyone worked really hard this season to get to where we got. I feel like practice got a lot harder this year than last year. Everyone had to be more focused and put more effort into our matches than last year.”
Evloeva certainly did.
Coach of the Year
DeVries has been coaching with the Oilers for eight years, though this was just her second year as varsity head coach. There were few signs early on that the Oilers would win the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title, as they were unranked in the division throughout the season, though four key freshmen helped the team’s depth. Even with the youth, DeVries always kept Huntington Beach (17-6) believing, even after finishing a close second place to Laguna Beach in the Wave League. The Oilers still made the postseason for the first time since 2009 and earned redemption against the Breakers in the Division 3 title match, as their 10-8 win earned the school’s first CIF title in either girls’ or boys’ tennis.
Corona del Mar | Sr.
Marcus, who played for Los Angeles Marlborough as a freshman and sophomore, returned to high school tennis her senior year for CdM. After a slow start to the season, she settled into the No. 2 singles spot and earned a reputation as a grinder, someone who didn’t mind a longer match. Marcus earned the Surf League singles title before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Individuals singles round of 16, winning a pair of tight three-set matches to get to that point. She finished with a 48-11 singles record for the Sea Kings. Marcus will play college tennis next year at Pomona-Pitzer.
Corona del Mar | Sr.
A four-year varsity player for the Sea Kings, MacKenzie was flexible, able to slide into singles or doubles as needed. As a junior, she was a first-team Dream Team doubles selection with teammate Bella McKinney, but in her senior year MacKenzie held it down at the No. 3 singles spot for CdM. She accumulated a 38-10 singles record before teaming with Evloeva for the Surf League doubles title and run to the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles semifinals. MacKenzie is headed to Butler University for tennis.
Laguna Beach | Fr.
MacCallum’s steady presence helped the Breakers to a big season that included the inaugural Wave League title and an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship, where they lost to rival Huntington Beach. MacCallum played at No. 2 singles for Laguna Beach behind Ella Pachl but won the Wave League singles title. After Edison’s Zoe Coggins upset Pachl in the semifinals, MacCallum beat Coggins in the title match. MacCallum, who was 37-3 in the regular season, advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Individuals singles tournament.
Reece Kenerson and Hannah Jervis
Corona del Mar | Sophomores
Kenerson and Jervis did not start the year playing doubles together, as Jervis had to sit out for 30 days following a transfer from Mater Dei. When she became eligible, the two good friends caught fire. By the end of the season, they became the Sea Kings’ best and most consistent doubles team, finishing 36-5. They advanced to the Surf League doubles title match, as well as the CIF Southern Section Individuals doubles round of 32. CdM will lose five seniors to graduation, so look for Kenerson and Jervis to become even bigger leaders for the Sea Kings next year.
Shaya Northrup and Bella McKinney
Corona del Mar | Seniors
Northrup and McKinney started their four-year varsity career playing doubles together as freshmen, and they also finished it that way as seniors. Each earned first-team Dream Team honors last year with different partners, but this year Northrup and McKinney were the Sea Kings’ top doubles team for much of the season. They earned impressive sweeps against North Hollywood Campbell Hall and Palos Verdes early on, finishing with a 40-7 doubles record together. Northrup and McKinney advanced to the Surf League doubles semifinals before losing to teammates Kenerson and Jervis.
Emily Gray and Daniella Pokorny
Huntington Beach | Sr. and Fr.
Gray and Pokorny were both first-year varsity players for the Oilers, despite their three-year grade level difference. Yet they were very effective, with Gray a force at the net and Pokorny at the baseline. Although they suffered an upset loss in the Wave League doubles semifinals, they rebounded for the postseason, losing just once as Huntington Beach claimed the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title. They went 14-1 in the playoffs and 41-10 for the season.
Player, School, Year
Ella Pachl, Laguna Beach, Jr.
Zoe Coggins, Edison, Jr.
Cindy Huynh, Huntington Beach, Fr.
Players, School, Years
Cassie Oakes and Cassey Hitch, Edison, Sr. and So.
Megan Mindte and Vanessa Gee, Laguna Beach, Sr. and Jr.