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The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Girls tennis team perseveres and gears up for playoffs

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Jason Mitchell

Narrowly beating out Westridge School in a nail- biting 11-7 match, Poly’s girls tennis team’s journey this season has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. With seven wins, seven losses, and one tie, they’ve tasted both the high of victory and the sting of defeat.

As the regular season winds down, this team in its entirety is not going to CIF, but some standout singles and doubles players are gearing up to seize the playoffs by storm. Coach Tyler Saxton noted that freshman Dora Chen, junior Dylan Lam, junior Ava Teng and senior Juliet Lord are poised for success as the CIF playoffs begin.

“I would say Dora, Dylan, Ava, and Juliet have a real shot to go far,” Saxton said. “Dylan and Ava did really well last year; they got second, so they’ve played these tough girls, and they’re like, oh man, we have a shot. Dora too. [She’s] lost a couple of times, but it’s been close, and she’s been injured, so if she’s 100%, she can win.”

One of the team’s most memorable matches this season was against Flintridge Sacred Heart. After a long day the Panthers were left in a tie with nine sets each. Each player gave their all, and the Panthers came out on top with 75 games to 70.

The Panthers’ determination to fight through challenging matches can be attributed to the team’s great leadership and positive attitude. Saxton highlighted two key players who are also great leaders. “Juliet has been a good leader because she’s our one senior. The girls look to her for advice, not only for tennis but as a student too. She has been a really good leader because of how she carries herself, prepares, and tries. Dora is a freshman, but she’s also a good leader just because she’s so good…The girls are really impressed by her and her professionalism,” Saxton said.

Strong leadership and skill aren’t the only strengths the Panthers have; in fact, one of the team’s most overlooked factors is their sense of community. Lord said, “We have a much closer community this year. All of us enjoy playing with each other, we’re all good friends…and that creates a positive team environment.” Saxton corroborated this, saying, “The girls are very friendly with each other, and so they just vibe.”

With CIF playoffs approaching, the team is focusing on specific strategies to gain an edge over their opponents. Specifically, they’ve been working on approach shots. Saxton emphasized the importance of this change in strategy, saying, “The thing that we’ve been trying to get the girls to do is to be more aggressive and attack-orientated. What we’ve been trying to do, especially with Juliet, is to have her hit an approach shot, which is a shot to the corner, and then you rush the net to do a volley… If everyone is able to finish at the net and hit good volleys… we’ll be in a good spot for our next matches.”

The Panthers’ work ethic and positive attitude primes the team for success in their last couple of matches in the Prep League. For those players who will make it to the CIF playoffs, you can expect a season of hard work to come to fruition.

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Pierre Vincent, Assistant Sports Editor
Grade: 12 Years on Staff: 4 Fun Fact: I've never had Coke before. Favorite Book: Unbroken Favorite Movie: Princess Bride
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