2014 SAN DIEGO MESA COLLEGE WOMEN'S TENNIS TEAM: SEASON SUMMARY
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair"…Charles Dickens (A TALE OF TWO CITIES-1859)
This quote by Charles Dickens begins what is considered one of the best novels ever written in the English language. It also captures in a way that is both prescient and symbolic, the 2014 season for the San Diego Mesa College Women's Tennis team.
The team began its 2014 season, its first under Head Coach Marc Pinckney, on a gray January morning, running a timed mile on the track at Mesa College. The team finished the season on a bright April Sunday in Ojai. The trials of the season were largely forgotten as the team celebrated freshman number one player, Sophie Najera, winning the California State Community College Women's Singles Championship.
The journey of the team and the player were reflective of what Dickens wrote about, as France suffered revolutionary political and culture change. The team started off the season losing its first five matches, including a heartbreakingly close 5-4 loss to Pacific Coast Athletic Conference foe Imperial Valley College; and an 8-1 trouncing by eventual conference champion Grossmont College.
Early in the season the team clearly suffered from the lack of a consistently defined lineup and the absence of real team leadership and\or chemistry. Some of the team was unsure of their level of commitment to the program; and apprehensive about the amount of conditioning work and clear focus required on a daily basis by the new coaching staff.
As players finally rounded into physical condition and started to perform better, they came to believe in their own abilities and the changed culture of the team. This renewed level of commitment and belief was reflected in the match record, as the team won 11 of its last 12 matches; a perfect turnaround and finish being marred only by a narrow 5-4 loss, again to the Grossmont College team.
The team was led by the play of freshmen Sophie Najera, Antastasiya Trachenko, Shannon McElhaney and Corrine Rivera. Second year players Erika Castro and Vanessa Duenas were also key contributors, as were freshmen Sarah Maple, Alex De La Cruz and Teresa Garcia.
A large factor in the resurgent play of the team as a whole was the consistently excellent doubles play of the teams of Sophie Najera\Erika Castro and Shannon McElhaney\Anastasiya Trachenko (who were undefeated during the regular season as a doubles team).
In early April, the team visibly started to peak, and at the PCAC post season tournament the team qualified three doubles teams (Najera\Castro; McElhaney\Trachhenko; Garcia\De La Cruz) and three singles players (Najera, Trachenko, McElhaney) for the Regional\State tournament played in Ventura and Ojai.
In the Regional\State tournament, Anastasiya Trachenko won a round of singles before falling to the 5 seed Mariel Bautista from Mt. San Antonio College. The doubles teams of Trachenko\McElhaney and Najera\Castro all won rounds in the tournament and the team of Teresa Garcia and last minute substitute Vanessa Duenas pushed the 2 seed team from Foothill College before fading late in the match.
Freshman Sophie Najera playing out of the 9 seed slot, beat Barbara Haikel from College of the Desert; Kaori Tsuda from Santa Monica College; 1 seed Sarah Anderson from Fullerton College in the round of 16; 13 seed Teresa Downey from Santa Barbara City College in the quarterfinals; 3 seed Rose Sgolsutyatom from El Camino College in the semifinals; and 1 seed Maya Mammetqulyeva from Fresno City College; 6-4, 4-6 and 6-2 in a stirring championship match.
Hopefully this season represents the first chapter of a program rebuilding itself, redefining what is truly possible, and moving forward with a serious commitment to excellence.