Christopher girls repeat as tennis champs

The Christopher High girls tennis team has won back-to-back PCAL division titles.

After winning the Pacific Coast League’s Cypress Division championship in 2018, the Cougars were promoted to the Mission Division this season. The results were more of the same as Christopher went 11-1 to capture the Mission Division title. The Cougars saw their team season end in a 7-0 loss to Robert Louis Stevenson in a league playoff match on Oct. 28 (their top two players competed for the Mission Division singles tournament title Tuesday).

Despite the defeat, Christopher coach Patrick McBrearty expects his team to get promoted again, which would place it in the Gabilan Division. While Patrick admits the team would be hard-pressed to compete for a title in 2020, he can take solace in the fact that all but one of the players are projected to return. The lone senior is Lauren Riewerts, who is one-half of the No. 2 doubles team and this year’s team captain.

“The girls worked really hard and deserved everything we accomplished,” Riewerts said. “It was an honor to be team captain for two years on this team.”

The starting lineup consists of four singles players and three doubles teams. The ladder went as such, starting from the top: Itzel Carreon, Aubree Tomasetti, Yashila Suresh, Sommer Filice, Danielle Russell, Riewerts, Sophia Jimenez, Laura Castaneda, Bianca Duarte, Emily Arenas, Paige Zukowski and Tatiana Rastoskueva. The four singles players—Carreon, Tomasetti, Suresh and Filice—were stalwarts, going a combined 46-6 in the regular-season.

“Itzel was our No. 1 last year and this year and has an amazing serve, good skill and is a very technical player,” Patrick said. “She’ll do well in the future. Aubrey is a grinder and played in some of the longest matches we had all season. She has rallies that last 10, 15, 20 hits, and she is very determined.”

Tomasetti was instrumental in the team’s 4-3 win over Alvarez, which was one of the critical victories of the season. Patrick said Suresh has the potential to be a dominant player because of her shotmaking ability, especially from the forehand side. Filice, a junior, also plays a grinding style that lends itself to long rallies. It was that mentality to grind that allowed the Cougars to win the division championship. The doubles teams of Russell-Duarte, Riewerts-Jimenez and Arenas-Castaneda also excelled.

Going forward, Patrick wouldn’t mind seeing the girls compete with a little more of an edge to them. He noted during the season it was hard to convince members of the team to challenge each other for spots, even though the very nature of being on a sports team breeds competition.

“Our ladies are so courteous that they don’t want to beat each other,” McBrearty said. “They don’t want to take their friends’ place and I can’t get them over the fact that if you’re better than the person ahead of you, you challenge them.”

Carreon has no qualms about challenging others because it’s what she’s been doing her entire career. Carreon had a racket in her hands as soon as she could walk and has been playing competitively since she was 9. She plays U.S.T.A. junior tournaments year-round and has a goal to get in the rankings. Even though Carreon and Tomasetti challenged each other one time each this season, they are friends and know challenges are a part of the process of building the team up. The team dynamic is special due to the close friendships.

“We’re super close friends outside of the tennis courts as well,” Carreon said. “We set up group meetings at the park and do activities or hang out. We have bonding exercises where we work as a team so we have that connection with each other.”

Carreon has been a stalwart at the No. 1 spot, possessing a forehand that allows her to hit with tremendous angles and spin. Riewerts knows she’ll miss being a part of the team, highlighting the camaraderie and closeness that characterized the group.

“The atmosphere with the girls on the team was great,” Riewerts said. “Even though some of the girls had never played tennis before, they were driven to improve. I’m going to miss them.”

Riewerts said the best match she and her partner Jimenez played came against Monte Vista Christian, when Riewerts drilled a shot that hit the doubles alley line on match point to seal a third-set tiebreaker win to clinch the match. McBrearty, who completed his ninth season as the Christopher girls tennis coach, said it was a joy to coach this year’s team.

“You’ve got a great group of young ladies who are very supportive of new players, very respectful to coaches, very respectful of the game, and fun to work with,” McBrearty said.

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