Teams have share of talent

The season is creeping up on La Cañada High's girls' tennis team, ready or not.

Turnover from last year leaves the Spartans with a lot of questions as to who will be playing in any given week.

"Our first lineup probably won't be the same lineup we use at the end of the season," La Cañada Coach Will Moravec said. "We'll sort of have to play our way into it a little bit."

The team relied heavily on their three doubles teams to consistently gain points. Unfortunately, each pair consisted of one senior, forcing the Spartans to retool their doubles teams in 2010.

"We're basically going to have to experiment with our doubles teams right now," Moravec said.

La Cañada finished third in Rio Hondo League and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs, losing to Valencia in the first round, 12-6.

Rachel Fox will be the Spartans' "big ace in the hole" and "star singles player" this year, Moravec said.

Two girls from the La Cañada junior varsity team last year, sophomores Sydney Fichel and Lynn Gilmour, look to play an integral role on varsity this year. Fichel won the junior varsity singles title last year and will be hoping for a smooth transition to the next level.

"It'll be interesting to see how they adapt to the higher level, because it is a big jump," Moravec said.

With a star singles player in the fold, the Spartans will be looking to one of their doubles teams to rise to the occasion.

"We have a lot of people and new positions to fill, so we'll have to see how they play, whether singles and doubles, and how their games adapt to the different style," Moravec said.

Each year La Cañada is faced with the task of playing schools in Rio Hondo League that have a bigger pool of students to draw from, like San Marino. Still, Moravec's ultimate goal is to win league and qualify for CIF playoffs. However, those goals will depend on his team's depth.

"We always want to try and win league, but you never know about that," Moravec said. "Our goals are always pretty high because our girls can play at that level."

Experience will be the backbone of the team this year, as it returns five starting seniors.

"We do have experience and a lot of girls returning. With that maturity brings calmness and the ability to concentrate and focus," Moravec said. "Hopefully, when the matches get close, instead of panicking and double faulting, their seniority will make sure they stay consistent, keep the ball in play and keep the pressure on the other player."

Flintridge Prep will have the main core of its young lineup returning. The Rebels will turn to junior Kira Lee, who went 51-5 last season and was named the All-Area Singles Player of the Year.

Prep will also return sophomore Jenise Vargas, a reigning All-Area singles player who went 50-6 last season. Lee and Vargas will be joined by sophomore doubles player Abby Letts and seniors Ali Preiss and Lugene El-Harizi.

Coach Ron Catano said the Rebels will seek a Prep League championship.

"We are pretty confident we can win league," Catano said. "A lot of the other teams in our league lost some of their top players to graduation.

"I like our mix and it might be the most talented team we have had. We want them to be confident during the matches and we have a lot of talent and experience to help us pull out some of our matches."

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy will once again have to deal with playing in the ultra-competitive Mission League. Tolog second-year Coach John Robb said he might have the personnel to move up in the league standings from fifth place.

"The goal will be to take it a step further," Robb said. "We want to play solid again against Alemany, jump over Louisville and try to be more competitive against Notre Dame.

"Last year, we were a little top heavy. Now, we are a lot more balanced throughout the lineup."

Flintridge Sacred Heart's top players figure to be junior Emily Katz in singles or doubles and seniors Clarisse Aoanan, Monique Lind and Katie Thomson in doubles.

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