FAIRFIELD — Girls tennis, as in all sports, has been realigned in the Monticello Empire League and Solano County Athletic Conference, but two constantants remain: Armijo and Vanden will be very, very competitive, as most defending champions are.
Here’s a look at this fall’s city high school girls tennis teams:
Emily Lewis is back for her senior season and her third atop the Vikings’ singles ladder. Junior Jaleena Hust is at No. 2, up from No. 5 in 2011, while senior Rhiannon Jensen is back at No. 4 and senior Aishlyn Webb is up from No. 6 to No. 5.
Freshman Kaily McDaniel takes over at No. 3, while senior Redha Rangan makes the jump from doubles to No. 6 singles.
In doubles, seniors Alicia Flaherty and Juliana Mikolajcik are at No. 1, senior Casey Quain and junior Hailie Sheppard are at No. 2, and juniors Krystal Fogata and Gabriella Arca at No. 3.
Also in the mix are sophomores Kendrah Black and Danielle Cruz, and juniors Breanna Thomas, Devon Smith and Kiely Walker.
“We have a very deep squad with 17 players who are ready to compete and win at the varsity level,” said Stan Lewis, Vikings coach and Emily’s dad.
For the 3-0 Vikings to repeat as champs, “It will take a commitment to fight for every point, every time we step on the court,” Stan Lewis said. “We should be a good team with a chance to win every match we play, but we will not overpower other teams. We will need to play smart and work hard every match.”
The Indians lost 2011 MEL singles champ Bella Heidenreich to a transfer to Justin-Sienna of Napa and have seven new players in their starting 12, but are still a talented bunch according to coach Greg Davis.
Lenora Quinonez moves up from No. 3 singles to the top spot, with the rest of the ladder filled by Michelle Nguyen, Kathleen Boholst, Ariana Restua, Linh Nguyen and Mercedes Uson.
Doubles again figure to be strong for the Indians with the teams of Kristina Lapira and Alicia Perez, Jaimi Garlington and Jhayneal Forteleza, and Jasmine Yasier and Tiffany Mestes.
Even with so many players in new spots, Davis expects the experience of winning the MEL title in 2011 to help in the pursuit of a ninth straight Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance.
“They have all seen how it’s done and understand what it takes to get it done,” the coach said. “We are very very fit team, smart and knowledgeable and growing fast together as one. We have outstanding chemistry, we are very interchangeable in our singles positions. We are a very deep team and are very committed to improving.”
It’s worked so far as the Indians have opened up 4-0.
The Mustangs make the move from the SCAC to the MEL with half of their singles ladder back from 2011.
Returning are senior Alexandria Johnson, up from No. 2 to No. 1, junior Gabrielle Tribelli, rising from No. 5 to No. 3, and junior Hannah Lee, who goes from No. 4 to No. 5.
New to singles this season are junior Julie DeVries at No. 2, Madalyn Fandrei at No. 4 and Chloe Hwang at No. 6.
Doubles features sophomores Christine Harris and Cierra Shackleford at No. 1, sophomores Demi Hunter and Alicia Riveria at No. 2, and freshmen Marisa Mark and Mikayla Murphy at No. 3.
“We have a good combination of returning players and new players,” Mustangs coach Eileen Wray said. “This mixture results in a team that works hard to improve and never gives up. The returning players encourage and show by example how to play the game and the new players are eager to improve and learn how to be stronger players. Our team will look very different by the end of the season because we will continue to get better and better with each match we play.”
The Falcons soar from the MEL to the SCAC with a new coach in Martin Lopez, a Fairfield grad and former player for the school’s boys tennis team.
Fairfield features returning players Kelsie Savko and Tiffany Tran, with freshman Dalixa Macias expected to hold down the No. 3 spot. Also in singles are Natasha Williams, Hannah MacConnell and Melissa Rojas.
The doubles include Ariana Ponce, Cassidy Harshman, Jennifer Aguirre and Sally Morales, with other players expected out for the team shortly.
Lopez, who’s in his first full week as coach, sees “motivation” as his biggest challenge. “We started late, we started behind,” he said. “I let the girls know straight up, straight away, ‘We’re going to be 3-4 weeks behind everybody else in preparation,’ ” though he believes there’s plenty of time left for drastic improvement.
“By the end of the season I want them all to play good matches,” he said.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.