By Joseph Casey
Three players from Bonita Vista High School’s girls’ tennis team qualified to compete in the San Diego California Interscholastic Federation tournament at Barnes Tennis Center on Nov. 7-9. Freshman Naomi Castillo represented BVH in the singles bracket and juniors Brittney Mendoza and Arianna Miranda competed as a doubles team.
“San Diego is a farm for tennis players. There’s a lot of good tennis players at this tournament. There’s no such thing as division one, two or three. The best are playing,” assistant head coach of girls’ tennis Joseph Sheffield said.
The tournament began with the singles bracket competition on Nov. 7. Castillo quickly won her first match against Christian High School with a score of 6-2 for the first set and 6-0 for the second. Despite her sweeping win, Castillo’s coaches explained that she began the match with some slight difficulty.
“I think she started off a little slow, but that’s what happens with a lot of players. It takes them a few games to warm-up. Once she did, she blew the competition out of the water,” head coach of girls’ tennis Karla Bautista said. “She won the first set with a little bit of a challenge from the other girl, but by the second set, she swept her.”
Castillo’s second match was against San Ysidro High School. According to Castillo, her second round was more closely matched than her first. Between sets, Sheffield came on to the court to discuss with Castillo ways that she could improve her game.
“He would tell me strategies to try to beat the girl like ‘slice the ball’, ‘hit more deep balls’ and stuff like that,” Castillo said. “I really want to improve my speed a lot, my back hand and also my serve. I want to make [my serves harder to return].”
Castillo ultimately lost the match with a score of 4-6 in the first set and 0-6 in the second. However, Castillo and her coaches were still proud of her overall performance at the CIF tournament and throughout the girls’ tennis season.
“Usually, players get to go to the CIF tournament when they’re a little older, they’ve matured a little more and they have a couple more years of competitive tennis behind them, so to have a freshman in just means that she’s been working since she was real young and she’s more mature of a player than we’ve had in the past,” Bautista said.
Mendoza and Miranda began the doubles section of the tournament on Nov. 8 by winning their first match with a complete shutout against Rancho Buena Vista High School. In their second match against Del Norte High School, Mendoza and Miranda lost the first set, 3-6, but won the second, 6-1, regaining momentum to win the tiebreaker with a score of 11-9.
“Moving on to the second round was a huge accomplishment and was such a proud moment for all of us,” Miranda said.
Mendoza and Miranda returned the next day, Nov. 9, for their third match against Francis Parker High School. According to Miranda, their opponent’s front player was their biggest strength, able to make shots with very strategic placement. Ultimately, the BVH duo lost 1-6 and 2-6, but Mendoza and Miranda remain pleased with how far they came.
“Overall, the CIF tournament was really fun and competitive. Brittney and I are so glad that we got to make it this far,” Miranda said. “I feel really proud of what we did. Going into next season, we know what to expect and will have a better chance.”
Bautista and Sheffield are proud of how Castillo, Mendoza and Miranda played, regardless of how far they went in the tournament. The girls’ tennis coaches also explained the immense honor associated with attending and making it beyond the first round at a CIF tournament.
“It’s definitely looked upon as the most elite tournament that there is in San Diego for high school girls. It brings a lot of status to your school to have a player competing, especially when they do well. It just makes the school look good,” Bautista said. “They had a great season. We’re happy with any wins that they got. Just being here is cool for the team.”